Sunday, 1 February 2015

Michelin Starred Dim Sum - Tim Ho Wan

After arriving in Hong Kong the previous day, our first full day was the Sunday, which we spent getting acquainted with our new city, and even doing a dry run for FMUS so he knew were to go for his first day of induction on the Monday.  From Olympic City to Elements Shopping Centre, it seemed that Hong Kong was nothing but shopping centres! We also wandered along the Avenue of the Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, just us and a few thousand of our closest friends, before catching the MTR back across to Hong Kong Island and more shopping centres.  By mid-afternoon we were both pretty tired of walking but the very important task of deciding where to go for dinner still had to be completed.  

After spending the afternoon strolling past shop after shop of luxury brands, we were ready to explore one of Hong Kong's more famous cheap eats.  FMUS declared the place to try would be Tim Ho Wan in North Point.  This particular branch of Tim Ho Wan has been awarded a Michelin star in this year's Guide, along with its Sham Sui Po and Tai Kwok Sui locations.  Finding it was an adventure in itself, we hailed a cab and tried to explain to the driver where we wanted to go, and thanks to a taxi app (which converts addresses to Cantonese), were finally deposited just down the street from a nondescript looking strip of shops in North Point (with a very out of place Ferrari parked across the street...). We weren't sure if we were even in the right location as we don't speak Cantonese (yet) and couldn't read the sign!  If it wasn't for the little red Michelin sign we may have walked on by. 

Dim sum roughly translates to "to touch your heart" (point to your heart), and is extremely popular in Hong Kong.  Tim Ho Wan has a reputation of being so busy that you take a number and have to wait sometimes over an hour for your number to be called before squeezing into a table, elbow to elbow with other diners, shoving the deliciousness down your throat and moving on so others can enjoy the experience.  Not as much heart touching as trying not to jostle your fellow diners as you rush to grab your table.  On the night we went, however, there were plenty of empty tables and we had lots of space between us and our nearest neighbour.

We were seated by the window and shortly afterwards were presented with some hot jasmine tea. One thing that I am loving about dim sum is the accompanying tea - even FMUS has been enjoying it!  We spent a short amount of time perusing the menu, and quickly figured out that we needed to choose our items on the little check box menu, however we did feel a little out of our depth as no-one seemed to speak English, and we didn't know if what we following the right protocols! Fortunately the waitress came over and it seemed we were correct in how we had gone about ordering - phew!

While Tim Ho Wan is famous for its pork buns (baked bun with BBQ - char sui bao), FMUS is not a huge fan of the old pork bun and I didn't really feel like it, so we went for the dumplings.  One dish I did want to try was the vermicilli roll with pork, which came out first.  These rolls were lovely and light, with a slightly sweet sauce that was delicious.  It was a shame we were served with 3 - we had to divide the last one otherwise it would ave been chopsticks at 12 paces!

Shortly after the rolls were consumed, we were presented with a large pile of steamer baskets. These were the dumplings which FMUS had waited for.  We had ordered the shrimp dumplings, the pork dumplings with shrimp, steamed dumplings in chiu chow style (because I was curious as to what this would taste like) and finally some vegetable and shrimp steamed dumplings.  The pork with shrimp were presented like little yellow nests of goodness, and were light and tasty.  The rest of the dumplings were similar in the gelatinous, sticky pastry in which they were presented.  The shrimp dumplings were FMUS' favourite, full of shrimpy goodness with a little extra spices added for that boost of flavour.  

The chiu chow style dumplings were interesting, at first we couldn't quite figure out whether they were the vegetable ones or not but they had a really interesting flavour which would be my favourite of the night.  Of course all had to be dipped in the sauces, and I had added a little of the chilli sauce to my plate which I think added to the flavour of all of the dumplings.  

Being the carnivore that he is, FMUS struggled with the vegetable and shrimp dumplings, while I was happy to finish them off for him.  I would say that, while I thought these were also good, I would probably not order them again if we were to go back.  I most certainly would try the char sui bao next time, being the speciality dish and all.

Overall we thought the dumplings were good but were they worthy of a Michelin star?  Given we didn't try the char sui bao we probably need to reserve our judgement for another day, but I must admit that once we went to Din Tai Fung the following night (post to follow), its going to be hard to want to go back to Tim Ho Wan when there is a Din Tai Fung so easy to get to in Causeway Bay! But never one for queuing for a long time, if I had to wait for 2 hours to get a table at Tim Ho Wan, I probably wouldn't bother, even for the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant around. 

The obligatory tea was provided when we sat down
The vermicilli rolls were hard to eat and even harder to put on our plates - they just kept breaking apart! 
Love the pork and prawn combination 
Thats a high stack of dumpling goodness!
The dumpling casing was sticky but once we ate them, yum!
Im sure if we could read these clippings, we'd be awfully impressed
The cheapest Michelin Starred restaurant in the world
It was quiet on the night we visited and it's hard to imagine two hour waits to get inside!

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