Friday, November 12, 2010

Michelin Magic - Tim Ho Wan

Signature dish - Baked bun with BBQ pork $12 for 3!

Ever since hearing that this hole-in-the-wall joint was awarded a Michelin star for their excellent dim sum, I wondered if the food really matched up to the hype.  C'mon, so the owner, Mak Pui Gor, was a chef at the Four Seasons Hotel, does that mean it translates to excellent food and cheap prices in a rush?  What about the rumoured 3-hour waits?

Treasure Hunt aka How to get there
Finding this restaurant was an adventure in itself. If you take the MTR, get off at Yau Ma Tei station and take the A2 exit. As you come out of the exit, Nathan Road is behind you, turn right on Nathan (towards Mong Kok) and then turn right on Dundas Street (about two blocks).  Walk past the Ladies Market on your left hand side and keep going until you reach Kwong Wah Street (on left).

You can't miss it for the crowds

Located in a non-descript area of town full of motorcycles, we arrived to find a crowd at 10:30 in the morning.  Even at this early hour, we had to wait 45 minutes for a table. Ladies, wear flats, not heels and bring your small shoulder bags as it's a tight squeeze inside.  As soon as you arrive, take a ticket from the hostess at the front and they will call out numbers.  The restaurant itself seats only 30 people.  When they called our number, I couldn't go in with my friends since half of our table was still occupied!  I had to wait outside until they had paid and left.  Tip: while you wait outside, ask for their bi-lingual paper menu so you can pre-order your food.

Just put the number of servings in the box provided, hand over to waitress when you are seated.

Tip 2: The bathrooms have no soap so bring wet wipes.

This is truly a place for locals, our neighbors ranged from super-nice to super-grumpy.  One woman barked at the waitresses because they poured her some pu'er tea.  She had brought her own ginseng tea (in a thermos) and didn't want the inferior restaurant house tea.  Be prepared for a real local experience!

* Cramped but happy!

Must try: Baked bun with BBQ Pork, get 2, 3, or 4 servings. You won't regret it. These melt in your mouth buns are definitely the star of the show and everything else pales in comparison. I reckon the Michelin star was awarded for this dish alone.

Oozing deliciousness

You may ask what sets this chef apart from the thousands of others in the city?  It's the glorious sauces. They taste as if they have gone through a reduction process, so concentrate was the flavour and so rich were they that it was definitely a Michelin experience on my palate.

Glue Rice (Sticky Rice) Dumpling wrapped in lotus leaf - $20
The same can be said for the sauce in their Glue Rice Dumpling.  However I was chided by the waitress for trying to eat this one first.  As the first dish to arrive at the table after a 45 minute wait, I was ravenous.  But our server said not to unwrap this as it should be eaten last in the meal. Yes, of course.

Steamed Mushroom stuffed with Fish and Black Bean Sauce - $14
An unusual dish we tried was the Steamed Mushroom stuffed with Fish and Black Bean Sauce, the mushroom was tender and meaty, the fish-paste was good except but you must be someone who likes the taste of cilantro.

Other recommendations include:
Deep fried Dumpling filled with Meat, Steamed Dumpling in Chiu Chow Style, Rice roll stuffed with Shrimp, Pan-fried Turnip Cake (wonderful Chinese sausage flavor), Steamed Egg Cake (sweet), .

Rice Roll Stuffed with Shrimp - $17

Steamed Dumpling in Chiu Chow Style (with peanuts) - $10
Pan-fried Turnip Cake with chinese sausage (tastes like chorizo) - $10

Steamed Egg Cake - $10

Deep Fried Dumpling filled with meat (pork) - $12
The desserts consists of hot soups. I opted for the Double Boiled Pear Soup with Snow Fungus ($10).  The snow fungus is a type of mushroom and valued for their crispness.  Like all chinese soups, this particular brew promises clear and hydrated skin, beneficial especially for the winter season.

* Better than a facial?  The small white pieces are chinese almonds

My friend opted for the Sweet Chestnut and Pumpkin Cream, she said it was the perfect finish to her meal.

Pumpkin cream - $10
Contrary to other small establishments, the staff wants you to pay at the table, not at the front desk.  This entire meal came to around $50 per person, great stuff!

Tim Ho Wan
2-20 Kwong Wah Street
Hours: 10 am - 10 pm
Tel: 2332-2896
(No reservations)

Second location:  Seats 150, over 10,000 square feet, no waiting (according to staff), but I have not yet tried this one out
G/F 9-11 Fuk Wing Street
Sham Shui Po
Hours: 8 am - 10 pm
Tel: 2788-1226
(This branch DOES take reservations)

Have been dreaming of the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork ever since, see you in line!

* Photos by Wendy A and Leslie R.


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  2. Gave address to taxi driver and off we went. The taxi driver spoke English and we told him we were going to tim hun wan. He informed us that they had moved to a new address and he took us there. I can't remember the new location but the hotels and taxi drivers will know it. Always give the name of the place and not just the street and area and you should be ok for anywhere you go.