Tim Ho Wan has finally landed in Sydney. Coincidentally, I happened to be in Malaysia during Chinese New Year and visited another Tim Ho Wan branch in Kuala Lumpur where I got a preview of what I can expect before they hit our shore.
There are not many dim sum houses in the world could say they have a Michelin Star in their profiles. Since Tim Ho Wan was awarded a Michelin Star back in 2010, it was like having given a green card for them to expand and now they have branches in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Manila, Hanoi, Sydney and soon in Melbourne – just to name a few. The franchising model is a dangerous game, to maintain the consistency and quality of the executions across all branches are not something many businesses are able to achieve. Not to mention the old habit of comparing eating notes between food lovers are inevitable. Prior to my visit, I’ve been warned by fellow Malaysians that the branch in KL isn’t as good as the one in Hong Kong. “It’s just ok…” was the usual response I received. But hey, is my first THW experience, give it a chance!
Tim Ho Wan in Mid Valley City shopping mall opens its door at 10am. We arrived at the restaurant 15 minutes before its opening time and there was already a line of 20 odd dumpling devotees patiently waiting outside. A waitress came around and handed out menus and order forms so everyone could start penciling down what they would like to order. As soon as the door opened, we were immediately allocated to seats and it didn’t take long to fill up the whole restaurant. Those who were still at the back of the line would have to miss out and wait a little longer unfortunately. The restaurant isn’t big, I would say it can fit around 60 odd people.
Don’t expect a dim sum menu with extensive choices, THW only offers a humble list of 31 items, including drinks. Don’t expect a friendly service, it was abrupt but at least the food arrived quick. We gleefully unwrapped the lotus leaf to reveal the steamed glutinous rice inside, filled with a generous mix of tender chicken meat, fatty pork slices and mushroom. The glutinous is sticky but not gluggy, gloriously soaked up all the soy sauce gravy from the filling inside.
The pork and prawn Siew Mai here was pretty good, the chunky dumpling was packed with chunks or juicy prawn and fatty pork, it was light and bouncy on the bite and not at all greasy.
The prawn dumpling also got another tick in my book. The glass-like translucent dumpling skin had a shy pink hue from the sweet juicy prawn meat within. It came in a basket of four, this delicate dim sum was a perfect bite-size of satisfaction.
For those who like deep fried items will be disappointed, as there are only 3 items on the menu – 2 types of spring rolls and then this, wasabi salad prawn dumplings. And possibly the only one worth ordering. It delivered what deep fried should be, crunchy skin while still piping hot on the inside. The lurid green wasabi dressing did lend a subtle sweet heat kick to cut through the richness.
Judge however you like, I am actually not a big fan of pork rib with black bean sauce and not the dish I would order at any yum cha restaurant. I always get disappointed whenever I ordered this dish when there were more bones and fat than meat, swimming in a layer of rendered pork fat. You may say is all about the pleasure of sucking the gelatinous goodness, well I say is more like putting all the offcuts together, steam it and then call it a dish! No exception here at THW and when this dish arrived at our table, and yup, I was right; it was just fat and bones.
“Good luck sucking!” I sneered at my friend.
Tim Ho Wan is famous for its Cheong Fun with pork liver. Unless you are a pork liver, else I don’t think you will enjoy this classic HK combination. We opted for the vermicelli roll with BBQ pork, I have to say it was a better version than many other yum cha places, chunks of sweet and tender BBQ pork had been mummified in rice noodle that was thin and silky smooth.
And everyone was here at Tim Ho Wan for one thing, the famous signature baked bun with BBQ pork. It came with three perfect domes baked to a light golden hue with a crusty sugary top, inside the soft bun was a luscious treasure of BBQ pork in sweet and sticky sauce. Believe the hype, it was kind of awesome to bite into a sweet bun that is filled with salty tender pork meat. I can definitely polish all three buns on my own.
I also noticed the table next to us pre-ordered half a dozen to take home so they can make love to them buns later. I mean, devouring them like they just don’t care.
I actually didn’t mind the dim sums at Tim Ho Wan at all. They were generous with the fillings, the dumplings weren’t as greasy with a cleaner tasting which I believe was misinterpreted by many as lacking the oomph and flavours.
Having said that, I am yet to visit the Sydney branch in Chatswood and definitely in no rush to join the current mob of die-hard THW fans queueing outside each day. I’ll get there one day, eventually.
Tim Ho Wan – Hong Kong’s Most Famous Dim Sum
27-G, Ground Floor
The Boulevard, Mid Valley City,
Monday – Friday : 10am – 10pm
Saturday,Sunday & PH : 9am – 10pm
And if you are looking for a yum cha place this long Easter weekend, I have written an article for Expedia listed out of some of the best Yum Cha in Sydney. So go out there and have another dumpling for me!