'Second to none': Chefs, residents offer tribute to UAE restaurant chain founder who passed away

Since opening, restaurant has served several celebrities like French footballer Paul Pogba, Taiwanese singer-songwriter Eric Chou, Indian actor Vivek Oberoi


Nasreen Abdulla

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Photos: Din Tai Fung website
Photos: Din Tai Fung website

Published: Tue 28 Mar 2023, 2:48 PM

Last updated: Tue 28 Mar 2023, 10:58 PM

The management of popular restaurant Din Tai Fung (DTF) in the UAE has offered its deepest condolences to the family of their founder Yang Bing-yi.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the Yang family. In our culture, we must refrain from speaking about this matter in public for at least two months,” said the management of DTF in response to a KT request for comment.

It was on Saturday that the global Taiwanese restaurant chain released a statement saying that their 96-year-old founder had “passed away peacefully”. It also elaborated that private funeral arrangements were underway, and that the family had requested for privacy.

First opening at the Al Ghurair mall in 2017, DTF currently also has outlets in MoE, Dubai Mall, Nakheel Mall and in Abu Dhabi’s the Galleria at Al Maryah Island. Since opening, the restaurant has served several celebrities including French football player Paul Pogba, Taiwanese singer-songwriter Eric Chou and Indian actor Vivek Oberoi.

Meanwhile, restauranteurs and chefs in the UAE have paid homage to the late founder of one of the world’s biggest dumpling empires for his impact on the industry. Michelin-starred chef Akmal Anuar, chef-owner of 11 Woodfire and co-founder and executive chef of Dubai's Goldfish, said that he respected the Yang Bing-yi for his contributions.

“I dont know much about him and have never met him but he revolutionised the dim sum concept into a fine dining and upscale one,” he said. “Dim sums were served in dirty rude Chinese restaurants back then. He changed the concept around."

According to Anuar, he had never tasted dim sums before DTF came to the UAE. “I never had one because they were never halal,” he said. “My first taste of DTF xiao long bao was at its outlet located in Mall of the Emirates (MoE). It was legendary, the dumplings were well-executed, and the pricing was very reasonable.”

Another Michelin-starred chef based in Dubai Vineet Bhatia said DTF was part of his happy memories. "We have enjoyed many meals together with our sons growing up and still do," he said. "A fantastic result of the hard-work and the dedication of Yang Bing-yi along with his wife. You have spread much happiness…now rest well!"

Born in China, Yang Bing-yi arrived in Taiwan with just $20 in his pocket in 1948 and began selling cooking oil before moving to selling xiao long bao. The astounding success of the restaurant franchise led to it expanding to 170 locations in 13 countries and territories.

A regular diner at DTF in Dubai, Ninu Hyder said the restaurant had become a family favourite for a number of reasons. “I eat at the restaurant at least once a month,” she said. “My kids love it. Also, I have had dumplings elsewhere and nothing compares to the quality and consistency of DTF.”

According to Ninu, the experience of having a xiao long bao is what makes her keep going back. “It is both pleasurable and fun,” she said. “Starting from how it arrives piping hot to your table in the wooden basket to be revealed with a flourish, the way the servers mix up your sauce to the method of eating it. First you take a small bite, then a long slurp to suck in the characteristic soup that hides within to be followed by the satisfying chew of eating a well-made flavourful dimsum keeps me going back to DTF. The legacy that the founder Yang Bing-yi has left behind is truly second to none and I think in a way, he will live forever through his restaurants.”


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