MANILA, Philippines – The man behind world-famous Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung, Yang Bing-yi, died aged 96, the franchise announced in a statement on Saturday, March 25. Bing-yi and his wife founded the internationally-renowned brand known for its xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings).
Bing-yi was born in 1927 in China’s Shanxi Province. He moved to Taiwan at a young age “for better prospects,” according to Din Tai Fung’s website.
Bing-yi first worked as a delivery man for a cooking oil store called Heng Tai Fung. Due to his hard work, he was promoted to accounts manager after only two years, but unfortunately, the business had to close down due to major losses. Bing-yi then opened his own shop in Taipei, where he sourced wholesale oil from Din Mei Oils. He named the shop Din Tai Fung, in commemoration of his first boss Heng Tai Fung.
It was in 1972 when Din Tai Fung’s oil sales took a hit, due to the rise of tinned oil. “Taking advice from a friend,” Bing-yi and his wife converted half of his shop to sell homemade xiao long baos – deliciously delicate, steamed dumplings typically filled with seasoned ground pork and a flavorful soup. Word-of-mouth about how good these handmade dumplings were quickly spread, attracting troves of customers and making Din Tai Fung a neighborhood success. Shortly after, Bing-yi stopped selling oil and transformed Din Tai Fung into a full-blown restaurant. The rest was history.
Din Tai Fung became a dumpling empire, while also serving other Taiwanese fare. It gained critical acclaim after being the only Asian restaurant to make it New York Times’ World’s Top 10 Restaurants list in 1993. The chain, which is currently helmed by Bing-yi’s oldest son Yang Ji-hua, now has over 161 restaurants located around the world – USA, UK, UAE, Australia, to Indonesia, China, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. Its Hong Kong branch is a 5-year Michelin star awardee. – Steph Arnaldo/Rappler.com
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