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Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan - Be Prepared For Foodporn

By Monday, July 06, 2015 , , , , , , , , , ,

I finally managed to get a dim sum fix at the 1 Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan at their latest branch located at Aperia, Kallang. The queue really isn't too bad as it moves quite quickly but of course, if you're in a smaller group, you'll get seated a lot faster. This review is based on 2 meals because I wanted to write about as many dishes as possible - both the good and the not-that-great.

I'm not going to wax lyrical about how Tim Ho Wan is the only dim sum restaurant to receive a star from Michelin and how the queues are so long that I didn't bother to go there when I was in Hong Kong. Let's get to the eating!

There are 4 signature dishes that Tim Ho Wan is famous for. In their case, they call it their Big 4 Heavenly Kings.

First up is the Char Siew Buns (S$5++ for 3 buns). This is more like a char siew bolo bun but better. This is a MUST order. The char siew is not dry as they cook it further with a lot of sauce so that the bun remains really moist inside. The top is a sweet crust which is what makes a bolo bun, a bolo bun. At Tim Ho Wan, they ignore the 'bolo'. They only have this baked goodness. I love how the crust doesn't really fall apart and it's really very delicious!

Next up is their Vermicelli Roll (chee cheong fun) with pork liver (S$5++). On first taste, I didn't quite like this but it kinda grows on you. Especially if you do like pork liver that's cooked with ginger, scallions and Chinese wine. The rice roll is very tender and soft too.

The 3rd Heavenly King is the Pan Fried Radish Cake (S$4.80++). It was super soft...soft to the point where it was necessary to use a spoon to pick it up. Unlike other restaurant's radish cake, you could really taste the pieces of radish as well as the dried shrimp. You know that they didn't rely on any additional ingredients or MSG to get the flavour out.

The final Heavenly King is the Steamed Egg Cake (S$3.80++). This fluffy cake felt like I was eating brown sugar flavoured air. But more satisfying. Eat it while it's hot! Although it still tastes delicious after it has cooled.

Now...for the other dishes that we ordered:
Prawn Dumplings - har kao
Prawn Dumplings (S$4++) are a staple in any dim sum meal. I wasn't too impressed with Tim Ho Wan's prawn dumplings. They were ok but I much preferred the ones at Royal China.
Pork Dumplings with Prawn - Siew Mai
Yet another staple is the Siew Mai (S$5++) and I must say that I was really surprised at this version. Firstly, that's a whole prawn on each dumpling! Secondly, there is so little pork used that it tastes more like a seafood dumpling! Very yummy! I could eat the whole tray by myself.

Steamed Pork Ribs
I love love love Steamed Pork Ribs (S$4.50++) for dim sum so I had to order this dish. Here's what I liked about Tim Ho Wan's version:
- tender
- juicy
- no bone shards
- meaty
What could've been better was the flavour of the fermented black bean. For this...I still defer to Royal China.

We also ordered the Steamed Glutinous Rice wrapped in lotus leaves (S$6++). This was really really impressive and you MUST try this. The amount of meat inside was super generous and the fragrance of the leave permeated the rice without it being waterlogged/soggy. The meat itself was cooked very well and it was only the meat that was giving the rice the typical Chinese sausage taste. Amazing. Why? The marinate of the pork itself has to be perfect - can't be too salty nor too bland or it'll spoil the whole dish. The fact that they manage to do this so well is quite mind blowing.
Fried Beancurd Spring Rolls

My mum was really impressed by the Fried Beancurd Springroll (S$5++) as they were fried but not oily and they did something to the beancurd skin as it was crispy without falling apart into tiny pieces when eaten. I was also very glad to know how generous they were with the fillings! Each spring roll had at least 3 prawns inside. Unheard of in other dim sum restaurants. Especially at those prices.

Prawn Paste on Fish Maw
Something that doesn't sound very appetising is the Prawn Paste on Fish Maw (S$5++) BUT I do recommend it. It's really simple but it is really good. I never thought of making a paste out of prawns and slapping it onto rectangular pieces of fish maw...but it works!
Congee with Salted Egg
They only have 1 type of congee (rice porridge) and at S$4.50++ for a bowl, one can't really complain. It's normal. It's not great nor was it bleurgh. Ordered it both times and on the second try, dad found it a tad salty. That's quite an achievement considering that my whole family thinks that my dad eats too much salt.

They do have monthly specials too...so we tried two of the July specials:
Steamed Fish Paste on Eggplant
They have a Steamed Fish Paste on Eggplant (S$6++) which I decided to order because I like eggplant. However, this dish was just an expensive Yong Tau Fu to me. A tad disappointed.

Yam with Sago
Another disappointment was the dessert Yam with Sago (S$5++). Tasted like liquid orni (yam paste dessert) with sago, except that I much prefer orni. In fact, I love orni so this was like it's ugly cousin trying to masquerade as the real thing. Meh.

They do have the usual Mango Sago (S$5++) which my dad ate and declared as slightly better than Mei Heung Yuen's version (S$4.50).

So there you are. The good and the not-so-great of Tim Ho Wan. Do make it a point to try it once and eat the MUST TRY dishes that I've pointed out. Don't bother with the dessert. You can always walk somewhere else for ice cream.

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