Din Tai Fung

University Village
2621 NE 46th Street
Seattle, WA 98105
206.525.0958
http://dintaifungusa.com/

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I grew up in a time and place where “ethnic food” meant Chicken Chow Mein at the only Chinese restaurant in town, a place which also served burgers.  That’s why—when I find myself at a place like Din Tai Fung picking up the sweetest vegetarian Taiwanese dumpling on earth in my chopsticks, dipping it in a tasty ginger/soy/vinegar sauce, and popping it in my mouth—I feel lucky.

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And make no mistake here:  these aren’t just any old dumplings.  So light they might float from their steamer basket, these dumplings are plump with their spinach and tofu-stuffing and so delicious that you think about them days later.  Dumplings aren’t the only wonderful things to eat at Din Tai Fung.  There are spareribs, katsu, fried noodles, broccoli (or green beans or spinach) with garlic, and delicious mango smoothie/slushes, along with a wide range of other choices—all of them yummy.

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I recommend that you order more than you can eat so you can take the leftovers home.  When you do, the waitstaff—all of them kind and attentive—will pack the leftovers in a beautiful little bag.

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When you open that bag, you’ll find your leftover dumplings inside along with little containers of soy, ginger, and vinegar, so you can re-make the dipping sauce.

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This kind of attention to detail at Din Tai Fung is completely accessible to all.  Easy parking, spacious passageways between ample tables, and a perfect bathroom make this restaurant a delicious choice for wheelchair travelers.

Parking:   Wheelchair parking spaces are close to the elevator in the newly-built, south end parking garage, and if you get the handicapped space on Level B, it’s a very short walk to the restaurant door.  However, as noted in other reviews of University Village locations, open handicapped parking spaces are often scarce at the U Village, and not always because cars with handicapped placards are parked in them.  It would be great if U Village security made monitoring permit-less use of these spaces a priority.

In any case, the entry to Din Tai Fung is on Level B of the parking structure.  The restaurant looks small from the entryway, and a cloud of people waiting to be seated is usually hovering at the door, no matter what time of day you arrive, especially on the weekend.  Have no fear.  The restaurant extends back and opens wide.  There’s room in there for many.

Entrances:  The entrance is completely flat with only a small lip at the door.  If the double doors are hard to manage, someone waiting will always help.

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Tables:   Only a few places in the restaurant are inaccessible to wheelchair users–a handful of booths and a raised section close to the entry to the restaurant.  Most of the restaurant tables are easy to get to and big enough to accommodate many delicious dishes.  Also, the passageways between them are the widest I’ve ever seen in a restaurant.  Navigating through them is a cinch.

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Restrooms:   The restrooms are located at the back of the restaurant down a short corridor.  If you are seated near the entrance, you will have to move through the whole restaurant to get to the restroom, but because of the wide spaces between tables, you won’t have to disturb anyone else’s dinner on your way there.  It’s an anxiety-free trip.  Unlike the arrangement in most restaurants, the first stall in Din Tai Fung’s women’s restroom is the handicapped stall, so it is easy to access even if you are using canes.  There are multiple grab bars around the toilet and easy to reach sinks.

Photos of interior space online:  Yes, on Google images.  The restaurant’s website is for  Din Tai Fung’s U.S. headquarters, so images other than food images on that site are scarce.

Photos of entrances online:  Not that I could find, but you don’t need them because there are no hurdles.

Reservations taken:  I’m not sure if the restaurant takes reservations, but if you can, do call ahead to let them know you are coming in a wheelchair.  If they are packed—as they usually are—you can get your name on their list and give them your cell phone number.  They’ll call you when your table is ready.  Make sure you tell them that Spoken Wheel recommended them!

What the wheelchair pusher has to say:  No uphill pushing for the pusher!  It’s flat, easy, and everyone is very nice.  They accommodate wheelchair users, seating you at a table that is easy to get to.  The wide spaces between tables make it easy to get to the bathroom.  The parking structure and restaurant are both new, so they are up-to-date with codes, and it is easy to get around.  And did I say–it’s inexpensive too!

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