Tim Ho Wan, the cheapest 1 Michelin Star dim sum restaurant from Hong Kong, is opening in Singapore at The Atrium @ Orchard, Plaza Singapura today. Opened by Chef Mak Kwai Pui (previously from Lung King Heen at Four Seasons Hong Kong), Tim Ho Wan has gained a strong following over the years and long queues are a common sight at his restaurants.
We got a sneak preview at a media tasting last night. Here are some of the highlights from the much anticipated Tim Ho Wan in Singapore.
The star on the menu and what you must order at Tim Ho Wan is the legendary Baked Buns with BBQ Pork ($4.50 for 3). I can say with confidence after trying, that the buns are as good as the ones in Hong Kong.
The Steamed Egg Cake ($3.80), another of Tim Ho Wan’s ‘Big Four Heavenly Kings’, is also a must-try — soft, fluffy and very addictive. I also enjoyed both the Steamed Prawn Dumplings ($5.50 for 4) and Steamed Pork Dumplings ($5 for 4). These classics were well-executed to a good standard.
Also good was the Deep-fried Beancurd Skin Roll ($4.20 for 3). It was a lot better than I thought it would be, and this was because of two combined successes — the deep-fried beancurd skin roll was not too greasy, and the fillings were of impressionable quality.
Tim Ho Wan also offers five different variations of Vermicelli Roll (Chee Cheong Fun) – BBQ Pork ($5.50), Shrimp ($5.50), Beef ($5.50), Black Pepper ($5) and its signature Pig’s Liver ($5.50).
We also tried the Steamed Beef Balls with Beancurd Skin ($4.20 for 3) and Steamed Dumpling Teochew Style ($4 for 3), and while decent, both were unremarkable.
The Pan-fried Carrot Cake ($4.50 for 3), one of the much-lauded items on the menu, was disappointing. It was slightly bland and it was missing the x-factor of a carrot cake that would otherwise mark a satisfying dim sum meal.
Other dishes on the menu include Glutinous Rice Dumpling ($5), Chicken Feet with Black Bean Sauce ($4), Pork Rib with Black Bean Sauce ($4.20) and Garlic, Mushroom, Spinach Dumpling ($3.80 for 3). They also have a rice category where they serve dishes such as Rice with Beef & Fried Egg ($6), and Rice with Chicken, Sausage and Mushroom ($6).
To end off the meal, there are two sweets available – the Tonic Medlar & Osmanthus Cake ($3.50 for 3) and Yam Puree with Sago ($3.50).
Supporters of Tim Ho Wan swear by the awesome BBQ pork buns and their affordable dim sum. At the same time, there are naysayers who feel that it is over-rated and not worth the time. This brings us back to the million dollar question: Is Tim Ho Wan worth the hype and queue?
Tim Ho Wan got famous because it offered good dim sum at very cheap prices – when it first started, you could get a very satisfying meal for around HK$50-80 (S$9-13) per person. However, with the high rental in Singapore – as with its branch at IFC Hong Kong – the dim sum here is slightly pricier. Most of the items are priced around $4-5.50 per basket. To be fair, they are still comparable with Singapore’s average; most dim sum restaurants in Singapore are priced at that range as well.
The dim sum in general is good. If you have never been to Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong, then this one in Singapore is not to be missed. But if you had been there before, then I would suggest to give it a little wait before stepping into the Singapore outlet. As with any new restaurant, there will inevitably be teething problems. I urge everyone to be patient.
All in all, the arrival of Tim Ho Wan is great news and a strong boost to the F&B scene in Singapore. Tim Ho Wan will be opening its second branch at Toa Payoh in July, before adding four other branches by the end of this year.
Tim Ho Wan
#01-29 Plaza Singapura
The Atrium @ Orchard
68 Orchard Road
Tel: +65 6251 2000
Note: This was an invited media tasting.