Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Your Guide to Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum @ Hong Kong

When in Hong Kong, do what the HongKongese do - eat dim sum! Hong Kong Dim Sum 点心 is the city's most famous and delicious experiences. If you do an online search by entering "Hong Kong Dim Sum", one of the first few names that came up would be Tim Ho Wan  添好運點心. It means "to add good luck" this outlet is tremendously popular due to its 1 Michelin Star status, making it the cheapest Michelin Star restaurant in the city and probably the world?!!

Before you conjure all wonderful memories of a Michelin starred restaurant from the deco to its food and service, let me pre-warn you that Tim Ho Wan defies all that. I also found out that it was former chef of Lung King Heen at Four Seasons, Chef Mak Pui Gor started this hole-in-the-wall outlet.

Looking for this place here can be a trick due to its facade that is covered with a bamboo scaffolding and motorcycles parked at the front. Although currently there's 4 branches, I chose coming to the one at Kwong Wa Street in Mong Kok due to its proximity to the hotel I'm staying. It's located right across a 7-Eleven outlet and you can definitely spot it from far due to the queue or crowd.

1st Step:
Get in queue. Start thinking hard if you really want to wait if you already spot a long queue.

2nd Step:
Take this menu card from the rostrum located right in front of the shop entrance. Tick what you would like to order. There's no picture on the menu card except for the giant food poster at the shop entrance. The pictures are no way professionally taken and thus the pictures might not entice you at all.

 These are the recommended dishes by the restaurant. I secretly think that I am capable to take better pictures with my not-so-pro camera.

There's no space in the shop to even fit this baby stroller.

3rd Step:
See this guy here? Hand over your order card, take a number from him and he will advice the number of hours you'll have to wait. No kidding... The first time I was there, I waited for 45 mins and I returned on the 2nd day wanting to have a late lunch at 3pm thinking that there would be no queue. Guess what did the guy tell me? He told me to wait for 2 hours!! Of course I didn't wait. By the time it's my turn, I probably would have starved to death.

4th Step:
Once it's your turn, you'll be ushered to your table. Lo and behold... the seating capacity of this place is only around 26 seats and the space is really tight. The tables are no more than the width of your body (that depends on how wide your body is) but I can see that some not-so-thin customers are struggling. I would strictly advise anyone not to dine here after a shopping escapade because there's no space to fit the many shopping bags. The tables and chairs are quite small and I thought they were made for kids!

Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumplings (HKD$24)

These 4 pieces of fresh shrimp dumplings costing RM10 would definitely be one of the most expensive price I've paid for at a dim sum outlet but I really have no complains about the price. Inside every neatly hand-made sealed delicate translucent rice flour skin, there's 2 pieces of fresh and succulent average sized prawns. Steamed to perfection, these are so good to even eat it on its own without any accompanying sauce.

Steamed Pork Dumpling with Shrimp (HKD$24)

This is also another obligatory dish for me at any Dim Sum outlet. A good pork dumpling with shrimp should have the right mix of these two meats so that you get the succulent texture from the fresh shrimps and the flavours from pork. The water chestnut and diced mushrooms added sweetness to this dumpling.

Steamed Chicken Feet with Black Bean Sauce ($14)

I'm such a huge fan of chicken feet! And I was quite eager to try the chicken feet here as I know that this delicacy is very popular in HK and especially in China. In HK, they would usually call this "Phoenix Claws" 鳯爪 (feng zhao) which is a more "upmarket" name than just calling it chicken feet. These delectable chicken feet are deepfried before they were steamed to achieve such a flavourful palate. It's soft and gelatinous which tasted so good with the sweet black bean sauce. The combination was excellent. I still wax lyrical about their chicken feet until today.

Vermicelli Roll Stuffed with Pig's Liver ($18)

There were 4 types of steamed vermicelli roll with the usual stuffings of BBQ pork, shrimps and beef but I was attracted to the one with pig's liver. Feeling rather brave, I gave this a try. It has a different texture than the usual pork and the steamed rice roll is soft and silky. There was also ample sauce to give the otherwise plain tasting rice rolls a dash of saltiness and the chives takes away its gamey taste. One caution though - this should be taken while it's warm or else it'll not taste as good as the first bite when it's served.

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork ($17)

The baked buns filled with a rich and flavourful BBQ pork stuffings is most raved after at any Tim Ho Wan outlet. It is afterall their specialty and I've not seen anywhere else that can replicate such buns. They come in a plate of 3's in average sizes that can be gobbled up in 3-4 bites. Oh my, those pork buns were simply irresistible. It has a coarse, airy, and crispy outer layer and stuffed with a generoulsy thick, flavourful diced BBQ pork cutlets and sweet dark sauce. Every bite is a delight. I was wrong to think that these buns are just a gimmick in replace of the ordinary Char Siew Pau that are steamed. We even saw 1 guy feasting on 2 plates of these baked buns by himself.

Tonic Medlar & Petal Cake ($12)

A meal would no be complete without a sweet ending. But I'm not a believer of such practice. However, I spotted this dessert and I am a fan of jellies and no prize for guessing that I would definitely order this. Also called the Osmanthus jelly 杞子桂花糕, this wobbly dessert is made of osmanthus petals and wolfberries. This dessert dates back to the Ming Dynasty. It is said that in Ming dynasty, osmanthus jelly was invented by a packman named Liu Jixiang who inspired from the osmanthus school of a Number-One-Scholar Yang Sheng’an, he decided to make a dessert with osmanthus. This sweet jelly is indeed a must-try!

A check in the internet reviews have shown that the price has increased by $2 for every dish this year. Our total bill came up to about HKD$150 for 2. It's definitely the cheapest Michelin star restaurant! There's a $2 charge for refillable Pu-Er tea and don't expect it to come with a nice porcelain teapot. The staff will be coming with a kettle to pour the tea into your plastic mugs. The highlight here is that the dim sum is only made fresh once you place and order and thus you might have to wait for at least 15-20mins before you're served.

Don't expect a stellar dining experice here because its affordable prices, humble exterior and informal atmosphere come in stark contrast with the quality of the food. If you really want to taste some really good dim sum and don't mind that waiting time, try Tim Ho Wan. I will be back!

Shop 8, Taui Yuen Mansion Phase 2, 
2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok.
Tel: +852-2332 2896
Opening Hours: 10am to 9.30pm


suituapui said...

Wowwww!!! Must be sooooo very good but if I have to queue, I would just go elsewhere settle for something less...and perhaps cheaper as well. Yunno lah...me, cheap skate! LOL!!!

Sean said...

i'm a fan of pork liver, so i think i'd like that roll. would be nice if a restaurant in KL could "copy" some of the more unique recipes offered by tim ho wan and try offering them here! :D

KY said...

the sweet jelly does indeed looks good!

eiling lim said...

stp: Yeah i hated the waiting time as well. But I am glad that I have tried this place.

Sean: oooh... I'm sure you'll be ordering that when you visit Tim Ho Wan. I also wished we have more dim dum varieties in KL.

KY: It tastes good too.

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