{hk} tim ho wan

9:10 AM sians 0 Comments

follow me as i trace my tasting footsteps, sharing the yumminess in the city of hong kong and macau for five days. it kick starts with the most memorable meal highlight. 

chopsticks dance on cue;
dim sum, from cart to table;
hong kong embodied.

at arrival, we breathed a sigh of relief.

there was barely a line -- we smiled as we took our number. ten minutes passed and we were the only ones left waiting outside. the maitre'd seemed to have entered the restaurant for a bit too long but thankfully we caught the attention of a waitstaff who finally ushered us in.

as we searched for a empty table to be seated at, the familiar morning chatter and chopstick sounds filled the traditionally decorated dining space. framed chinese calligraphy decorated the white walls fringed by dark wooden panels. occasionally, a diner called out in cantonese as the waitstaff in green shirt and apron whizzed past to pick up order forms and brought it to the kitchen in exchange for bamboo steamers full of made-to-order dim sum on trays. the steam emanated from the bustling kitchen at the front of the restaurant while the delicious aroma of familiar bbq pork buns and chinese dumplings permeated the room. 

it was morning on a wednesday. there was already a crowd despite it being only an hour and a half into their day but there were still a few tables available for the taking.

that didn't last for long though.

as soon as we were seated, a jug of chinese tea followed by two sets of bowls, chopsticks, spoons and cups were plonked down in front of us on the table. the illustrated menu and order form was waiting patiently at the table as we pondered on what to order. 

a mere unforgettable snapshot from my dining experience at the favorite local joint famed to be the cheapest michelin one-starred restaurant in the world since 2010, tim ho wan {添好運} in sham shui po, mong kok -- the original store started by mak kwai pui.

in fact, it was the first place my hk friend recommended as a MUST HAVE in hong kong. it was all the convincing i needed and it rocketed to the top of my food itinerary.

"$2/one person for pu-erh"
chinese tea is a must but pu-erh is the only option they offer.

steamed :: steamed fresh shrimp dumpings (hkd 26)
"ha jiao" aka "har gow"

four steaming dumpings -- two shrimps enveloped lovingly by the thin dumpling skin, translucent where the pink hue of the shrimp done well, peeked through. as i lifted one of these morsels off the wax paper it rested on with a pair of chopsticks, the dumpling skin remained sturdy without tearing but slightly chewy as i took a bite off it. while it was good, it was missing a touch of seasoning and i was searching for the natural sweetness of the shrimp.

steamed :: steamed pork dumplings with shrimp (hkd 26)
"shao mai" aka "siu mai"

easily recognisable by its thin yellow wrapper, siu mai is probably the most well known variety. an open top dim sum, its filling of ground pork, crowned with a succulent whole shrimp, making up a plump dumpling and finally garnished with goji berry. moist and succulent meat, well seasoned -- bursting with umami flavors where it contrasted by the light sweetness of the fresh shrimp echoed by a mild herbaceous sweetness of goji. to top it all off, perfectly cooked.

definitely worthy of its spot in my top eats of 2014.

steamed :: glutinous rice dumping (hkd 26)
"lor mai kai"

bundled up in a dried lotus leaf, the strong herbaceous floral aroma wafted to the nose as the steam rose from splitting the heap of rice to find the marinated chicken and mushroom. the sweetness with a whisper of light bitter end note from the leaf seeped into the sticky rice as it naturally flavors the rice to go with the soy marinated juicy pieces of chicken.

the huge amount of rice eclipsed the disproportionated amount of chicken and mushroom so the umami wasn't as pronounced as i'd expected. a decent rendition of the dish but i think i am more accustomed to a slightly sweetened version that i grew up with.

vermicelli :: vermicelli roll stuffed with bbq pork (hkd 20)
"char siu cheung fun"

these smooth layers of rice noodle, thin enough to be slightly translucent for a glimpse of the filling are rolled into tubes and topped with a lightly sweetened soy sauce. the broad noodles were almost silky smooth as i slurped down (so smooth that it slid out of the chopsticks --needed help of the spoon) with just enough of the light sauce to chew into the mildly sweetened moist diced bbq pork chunks.

the ratio of the ingredients was balanced exquisitely to arrive at flavors of savory intertwined with a light sweetness. so satisfying that it was reason enough to add it to my top eats of last year.

[#protip] dining at tim ho wan

o1. may have better luck with the crowd on weekday mornings -- try to get as early as possible, should be less people.
o2. if there are other waiting diners, get a number at the counter. if not, walk in to see if there are any available tables.
o3. wash the bowls, chopsticks and cups using the pot of chinese tea into the big bowl provided before using them. 
o4. ask for the english order form if you need it.
o5. modus operandi: look at the illustrated menu - fill out the order form - pass the order form after successfully grabbing the attention of the waitstaff - wait for food to be served.
o6. pay at the counter after the meal.

tim ho wan's continued success is attributed to the chef's mastery of the classic favorites, in concentrating delicate flavors into "little eats" to impart complexity, using just a few fresh ingredients. making dim sum may not be easy, even more an art to make scrumptious ones that left me craving for an encore (at least for a few)

in chinese, dim sum literally means "a light touch on the heart". and tim ho wan at sham shui po has left a lasting yummy one on mine.

tim ho wan | location

g/f, 9-11 fuk wing street,
sham shui po, kowloon
hong kong
{opens daily 8am - 9:30pm}
nearest mtr station: tsuen wan line, sham shui po, exit b2

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.