Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tim Ho Wan

BBQ Pork Buns at Tim Ho WanYou know you are near Tim Ho Wan, the dim sum specialists in Hong Kong, when you see the large crowds outside. Names are called, people settled into closely packed tables, and orders are rapidly taken - with nary a smile or small talk. That don't seem like a place to attract attention from the high and mighty Michelin guides, does it?  That it did is testimony to the deliciousness they dish out daily to a growing number of patrons.  When it received its single star in 2009, Tim Ho Wan became the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world!

Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan's success in Hong Kong has now been replicated in a few other cities in Asia.  Singapore became home to their first outlet a few months back and I had a chance to sample their famous dim sum offerings.

The one dish you can't miss here is their signature Baked Bun with BBQ Pork or char siew bao.  Deceptively spartan looking, the buns have a thin and crisp outer layer that is soft and lighter than most other varieties of pork buns I have tasted before.  The inside is filled with steaming, smoky, sweet-salty barbecued pork. There is incredible satisfaction when you bite through the heavenly combination of textures, flavors and tastes.

Char Siew Bao at Tim Ho Wan

Carrot Cake at Tim Ho Wan

The pan-fried Carrot Cake is another popular dish.  The soft and wobbly carrot and radish cake felt a little bland after the pork but you can augment the flavors with soy sauce.  The other dish we liked was the Cheong Fun, called vermicelli rolls on the English menu.  While the one with Pig's Liver is the most popular, we decided to go with the ones filled with shrimp and bbq pork.  Both were absolutely delicious!

Vermicelli Rolls at Tim Ho Wan

BBQ Pork Vermicelli Rolls at Tim Ho Wan

Moving on we tried the more familiar dim sum items such as pork and shrimp dumplings along with some greens. These were very good and tasty too but not particularly exciting only because I find them in most other dim sum places.  The dumplings had a nice hint of wolf berries that made them somewhat distinct than the run-of-the-mill variety.

Chinese Grrens at Tim Ho Wan

Pork and Shrimp dimsum at Tim Ho Wan

We also tasted their Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling, a classic fried dim sum that comes with a mild wasabi dressing and Tobiko roe to spice up the dish in an unexpected way. Finally, we tried the Squid in XO sauce enlivened by garlic and vermicelli.  Pretty good!

Walad Prawn Salad Dumpling a Tim Ho Wan

Squid in XO sauce at Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan makes you want to try everything on the menu.  However, the best is clearly the char siew bao; I have eaten many varieties of these, but no one comes close to these delightful morsels of heaven.  The vermicelli rolls come next followed by everything else.  I have to point out that we did not order one of their 'big four' dishes, the Steamed Egg Cake.  Maybe next time!

White Pepper Crab at No Signboard Singapore

The picture above is from No Signboard, where I went back (on a different day) for some White Pepper Crab expecting to get the regular Sri Lankan variety.  They pushed me to order imported Dungeness instead and at twice the price because they claimed they had run out of Sri Lankan; this at the beginning of lunch time.  What a scam!

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