Led by Singapore-based food and beverage (F&B) company BreadTalk Group, renowned Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung and it’s signature dish xiao long bao (broth-filled steamed pork dumplings), made their debut in London in December, marking the brand’s maiden venture in Europe. Located in the city’s West End district, the flagship restaurant is Din Tai Fung’s 153rd restaurant globally. A second restaurant in the British capital will open in 2019.
Ranked as one of the world’s top 10 gourmet restaurants by The New York Times in 1993, the brand has been awarded a Michelin star and enjoys a global presence in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates.
“We wanted to bring this world-renowned brand to London because it is home to some of the best chefs and restaurants globally. Consumers in London appreciate good food and quality Taiwanese cuisine. In addition, through the opening of our first Din Tai Fung restaurant in London, it provides our team with many learning opportunities, which will be useful for future growth and expansion”
– Henry Chu, Group Chief Executive Officer
BreadTalk Group’s partnership with Din Tai Fung began 16 years ago when it brought the brand’s first restaurant to Singapore. It opened the first Din Tai Fung branch in Thailand eight years later. To date, there are 22 Din Tai Fung restaurants in Singapore, six in Bangkok and one in London operating under BreadTalk Group.
Din Tai Fung’s U.K. venture is led by Taster Food UK Ltd., a subsidiary of BreadTalk Group. Taster Food’s subsidiary, Together Inc., is in a joint venture with Din Tai Fung Restaurant Co. and other partners.
Henry Chu, Group Chief Executive Officer shares: “We wanted to bring this world-renowned brand to London because it is home to some of the best chefs and restaurants globally. Consumers in London appreciate good food and quality Taiwanese cuisine.
“In addition, through the opening of our first Din Tai Fung restaurant in London, it provides our team with many learning opportunities, which will be useful for future growth and expansion,” he adds.
Chu says Din Tai Fung’s London restaurant will differentiate itself through the quality and authenticity of the chain’s signature dishes and other delicious Taiwanese staples, including its steamed chicken soup and world-famous xiao long bao. The dumplings have a minimum of 18 folds and pass through six different stations—each manned by a team of dian xin (dim sum) chefs—before steamed to perfection for more than 40 minutes.
London is BreadTalk Group’s first foray into Europe, with the majority of its outlets in Asia. Looking ahead, Chu says the group will pursue its expansion plans in the United Kingdom and elsewhere through one of the 12 brands in its stable. To support this, it is looking to grow its brand portfolio, and has added five more to its offerings in the past two years alone. “The end goal is to strike a balance between having more countries to operate in and strengthening our presence in countries we already operate in, with new, refreshing brands,” he explains.
BreadTalk Group has four business divisions: bakery, food atrium, restaurant—which manages the Din Tai Fung brand—and a recently launched division called 4orth Food Concepts that identifies suitable joint-venture partnerships. In May last year, for instance, BreadTalk Group partnered with Shenzhen Pindao Food and Beverage Management to introduce popular beverage brands Tai-Gai and Nayuki, respectively known for fruit-blended premium teas and the cheese tea bakery café concept, to consumers in Singapore and Thailand, with a first right of refusal to operate in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Both brands were founded in 2015 and have become two of the most iconic beverage brands in China, with more than 240 stores in 22 major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. “Nayuki is a brand that we will consider bringing to Europe. It’s tasty and healthy, so it appeals not only to the young but also to a broader audience of tea and milk lovers,” explains Chu.
Embracing Technology, Supported by Our Values
To fuel its global expansion, the group looks to leverage technology and automation to overcome pertinent issues faced by the F&B industry, such as its heavy reliance on manpower. Chu notes, “F&B is a labor-intensive industry and, coupled with long working hours, it’s difficult to hire younger people to join this industry. By investing in automated solutions in the kitchen and leveraging consumer technology, such as iPad ordering, we can create a more efficient working environment and enable our staff to engage more with our customers.”
Guiding BreadTalk Group’s growth strategy is its recently revised vision, mission and core values statement. The group continues to embrace innovation and ongoing improvement, with both supported by a spirit of professionalism and integrity. “We always ensure that we use the freshest ingredients and deliver the best value for our customers in every product we serve,” says Chu. The group conducts regular audits to ensure that quality is consistent across its vast array of brands and outlets, and is committed to a culture of continuous training for its staff.
“The United Kingdom is a new market for us. Therefore, we will continue to invest time and effort so that we can deliver an enjoyable brand experience to our British customers as they learn about our brands and products,” says Chu.