[Hong Kong] Tim Ho Wan – Michelin 1-Star Dim Sum

1 08 2012

For many, a trip to Hong Kong is never complete without a visit to Tim Ho Wan, one of the cheapest 1-star Michelin restaurants you will ever find. I was admittedly skeptical when my friends told me I would not spend more than S$15 here but I soon discovered they were spot on. And believe me, I don’t hold back when I get clearance to fill up a food order sheet.

I heard that the flagship outlet in Mongkok serves the best dim sum amongst its 3 outlets (the other 2 are at Hong Kong Station and Sham Shui Po) so if you don’t mind the 1-hour wait (as the joint at Mongkok only seats around 30 people), it’s the place to be.

There’s around 20 items on the menu, of which I tried 14 of them during this visit. I will cut to the chase and tell you what are the must orders here!

To put it simply, while most items are of commendable quality, only 3 items really stand out to me.

The first is the Barbeque Pork Buns (17 HKD). Think of it as a Bo Luo Bao (菠蘿包) with fatty char siew fillings. The sugary glaze atop the deep fried bun, paired with the savoury char siew is a match made in heaven. It’s so freaking awesome, it should be patented and why hasn’t anyone copied it back in Singapore yet?

When Neo chose the red pill over the blue pill in The Matrix, he made a revelation as the veils were lifted from his eyes. That’s how I felt as I sipped at my first mouthful of Tim Ho Wan’s Century Egg with Shredded Pork Congee (16 HKD). It’s so damn insanely good. The silky congee is made even smoother with the creamy texture of the century egg and as you slurp down the congee, you end with a most interesting finish of rich salted eye yolk.

Last but not least is the Prawn Chee Cheong Fan (22 HKD). The Cheong Fan skins should be ambassadors for SK-II, showcasing a pearly and elastic texture.

Most of the other items I tried such as the Har Kow (24 HKD), Siew Mai (24 HKD), Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake 馬拉糕 (12 HKD) were pretty decent as well, with the Fried Carrot Cake (12 HKD) being a popular item amongst my friends.

Other dishes like the Spring Rolls (22 HKD), Fried Beef Dumplings (18 HKD), Beef Balls in Beancurd Skin (16 HKD) were quite meh and the Pig Organ Chee Cheong Fan (18 HKD) had lingering stench of organs that had not been washed throughly.

No dim sum restaurant I know of gets everything right and Tim Ho Wan is no different. But of the ones they do get right, what you get there is a little glimpse of heaven.

Tim Ho Wan

8 Kwong Wa Street, Mongkok, Kowloon

Tel: +852 2332 2896

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Royal China – The Decline of a Dynasty?

11 10 2011

Located just 5 minutes away from SMU, Royal China is one of the places I started frequenting quite a bit in my current sophomore year, so this post will be a cumulation of  the 3 lunches I had over there in the past 2 months.

Housed in Raffles Hotel, most would think that the restaurant would charge premium prices commensurate with the 5 star hotel status. I’m pleased however to announce princely sums are not a prerequisite for dining at Royal China, as a filling casual dim sum lunch can be sought after for as low as $15-$25.  Weekday set lunches are available too at $68++ for 4 pax, which brings it to about $20 nett a person, definitely affordable considering that the nearby Koufu would set you back at around $6 for a meal and drink anyways.

For dim sum, there are a few items that Royal China excels spectacularly in. First, there’s their Royal China Special Cheung Fun ($4.80++), a combination of scallop, char siew and prawn cheung fun. The translucent skin is delicate and smooth like a baby’s bum, a real pleasure to eat.

Touted as one of the best renditions of its kind to be found locally, the Steamed Bun with with Salted Egg Yolk and Fresh Mango ($4++) treads on the fine balance between sweet and savoury with its fine pairing of fluid lava custard and soft airy bun. Unlike the ones at Victor’s Kitchen, the custard fillings here aren’t as oily, and the buns’ texture are a lot softer than the ones at Bosses in Vivocity.

Another item worth ordering would be their Congee. Coming in substantial portions sharable amongst 2 pax, the variety of congees ranging from seafood, fish & conpoy, chicken & mushroom and century egg & lean pork are priced reasonably between $5-$7.50++.

I tend to order Scallop Dumplings ($4.80++) whenever I see it on a dim sum menu. Topped with what seems to be a dollop of caviar, it didn’t disappoint.

The mediocre items would include the Char Siew Sou aka Baked Barbecued Pork Puff ($4++), the Pan-fried Bean Curd Roll Stuff with Minced Prawn ($4.80++) and the Deep Fried Vegetarian Spring Roll with Shredded Vegetables ($4++).

As I mentioned previously, Royal China also offers a $68++ 6-Course Set Lunch for 4 pax though personally, I’d recommend sticking to the ala-carte dim sum menu.

The 1st Course is a Healthy Soup of the Day, in my case it happened to be a clear chicken soup with coconut. It wasn’t fantastic. Coconut flavoured soup just doesn’t sit well with me and the chicken meat was tough.

Then came the Medley of Dim Sum, comprising 3 of the most common dim sum that can be sought. Somehow, the har gaos and siew mai in the set lunch feels slightly more slipshod than ordering it ala carte.

The Barbecued Meat Combination Platter was rather disappointing as well. The chicken meat was dry and the char siew unflavourful.

The Stewed Sea Perch with Mushroom Served in Hot Stone Pot was probably the only course which appealed to me throughout the set lunch, though it wasn’t that fantastic either.

The Poached Garden Greens with Wolfberry in Stock was simple but boring.

The Braised Noodles with Live Prawns in Ginger and Shallot Sauce came across as rather bland, with the noodles tasting floury and lacking the tasteful infusion from the sauce and prawns.

Dessert was a Steamed Layer Cake with Salted Egg Yolk. It’s not bad, but nothing compared to Royal China’s signature Steamed Bun with with Salted Egg Yolk and Fresh Mango. 

 

Standards at Royal China have been a little inconsistent of late, but let’s cross our fingers that it’s just one off incidents.

Bon Appetit!

Royal China

1 Beach Road, #03-09 Raffles Hotel

Tel: +65 6338 3363

 





Lei Garden – Dim Sum Delights

8 03 2011

A dim sum lunch is perfect for a birthday meal! After all, dim sum (点心) literally means “touching the heart”, which is what a birthday meal is all about…feeling the love, care and concern, if only for a day a year…

So my friends got this investment book called The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (Warren Buffett’s shifu), which might help in inculcating the skills required to sell risky structured products to unsavvy investors in the future…and with food, guess that makes 2 of my life’s passion.

Lei Garden is only a short walk over from SMU, and it’s really nice to be able to soak in Chijmes’s chill-out ambience during a school day.

We started the meal with some Rainbow Egg & Shredded Pork Congee ($5.80). It was very decent with a nice smooth texture.

I have had better so I didn’t really think too much of the Deep Fried Taro Dumpling with Minced Chicken ($4.30), nor the Pan Fried Carrot Cake.

The Steamed Cheong Fan with Char Siew was awesome! While thicker than most dim sum joints, the skin of the cheong fan was unbelievably smooth.

What I found most abysmal was the Xiao Long Pao. The skin was awfully dry, over steamed perhaps?

Had ambivalent feelings about the Steamed Custard Bun with Salted Egg Yolk ($3.80). On one hand, I liked the unique chocolate twirls on the bun, but the custard filling was a bit of a let down. Firstly, there wasn’t enough custard to have the oozing effect when I peeled it open, secondly there was a lack of the distinct taste of salted egg yolk.

As for the Har Kow ($4.80) and Siew Mai ($4.30), I thought they were just decent enough.

The Char Siew Pao ($4.80) was just average, much lacking in fillings.

For desserts, I ordered some Tang Yuan (Rice Dumpling), a Mango Pudding with Dragon Fruit and a Gui Ling Gao (Herbal Jelly) to share. Nothing particularly memorable though.

Food does taste better with good company. I truly enjoyed my delightful dim sum lunch there though next time, its probably going to be Wah Lok or Royal China. (Can’t believe I still haven’t got down to trying them yet!)

Bon Appetit!

 

LEI GARDEN RESTAURANT

30 VICTORIA STREET, #01-24 CHIJMES

TEL: +65 6339 3822





The Paramount Restaurant – My First Yu Sheng of 2011

30 01 2011

Managed by the Tung Lok Group, The Paramount is a popular haunt for working adults and aunties. The years have not been kind and despite the obvious facial flaws and peeling skin, The Paramount retains the airs and grace of an aged dame, with a very classical feel about it. With Paramount Hotel being bought over by Far East Organization recently, I fear that it won’t be long before an expiry date is issued for The Paramount, much to the disappointment of its many regulars.

Did you know that just like the Thumb Drive, Yu Sheng was invented in Singapore (and not China!) as well? It was actually the brainchild of Lai Wah Restaurant, which still stands today after more than 30 years in operation. That said, I’m still no fan of Yu Sheng($38++/Small). After all, isn’t it just a plate of coloured shredded vegetables in Plum Sauce? Still, I’m thankful for the Salmon Sashimi or in other places better yet, thick slices or cubes of abalone…shiok!

I used to think that you can only get good dim sum in expensive posh Chinese Restaurants but quickly changed my mind after having the Fried Prawn Dumplings($4.20/3 pieces) here. Bursting with umami flavours, I can’t see how anyone would have been able to stuff anymore prawn fillings into the dumpling even if they wanted to. Eaten with good old mayo, this proves to be one of life’s simple pleasures.

Given a choice between beef and venison, venison always triumphs (unless you used a wagyu or kobe cheat code). While the Sauteed Sliced Venison Meat with Chef’s Special Sauce($22) wasn’t particularly impressive taste-wise, the generous portion size more than made up for that.

Sea Cucumbers are my Dad’s favourite and I love them too so we had the Stir-Fried Sea Cucumber with Deep Fried Fish Maw($28++). Originally tasteless, I just adore how the sea cucumbers manage to soak up all the “zhap” or gravy which makes it just so tasty.

A dish of Stir-Fried Spinach with Garlic to help with bowel movements concludes the pre-CNY festivities.

I was surprised that while many eateries face problems with the lack of a weekday lunch crowd, The Paramount didn’t seem to face such issues and while the food was not mind-blowingly good, it definitely is decent with an extensive menu catering to all palates.

Bon Appetit!

THE PARAMOUNT RESTAURANT

30 EAST COAST ROAD, #01-01/02 PARAMOUNT HOTEL

TEL: +65 6440 3233





Hua Ting – Dim Sum Brunch

7 01 2011

One of my most favourite dimsum places in Singapore has to be Hua Ting, a Chinese Restaurant with an illustrious background situated in Orchard Hotel. It also does help that my parents subscribed to the Millenium Group of Hotel’s privilege card aka ala carte card, which gives a 50% discount to participating hotel restaurants when dining in 2 pax, 33% off when dining in 3 pax, 25% off for 4 pax and 20% off thereafter. Participating hotels under the Millenium Group include Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Copthorne King’s Hotel, Copthorne Orchid Hotel, M Hotel and Orchard Hotel. I think it’s a pretty good card to subscribe to as you get 1 night’s stay in any of these hotels for the year and a stack of vouchers to use for these hotels, in addition to the dining benefits. If I’m not wrong, it costs around $500 odd for a year’s subscription.

With this discount card in hand, dim sum lunches over at Hua Ting has always been rather affordable affairs, and I would normally spend in the range of between $15-$20 when I go in 4 pax. Just imagine what the price would be if I had just gone in 2 pax, though there would be the inherent disincentive of being unable to order a wider variety of dim sum.

One good thing about Hua Ting is that they price their dim sum by individual piece so you can opt for 4 pieces of dim sum in a basket which conventionally comes in 3 pieces. I shall keep this post short and sweet, focusing only on the more delectable items.

I really liked the Har Kows here, the skin isn’t too thick. The prawns are fresh and succulent.

CJ enjoyed the Char Siew Buns the most of all the dishes today. I have to admit it’s pretty good. The bun is airy and the char siew is a nice mix of sweet and savoury.

The Deep Fried Yam Pastries with Minced Pork and Prawn was fair.

Deep Fried Bean Skin Roll with Prawns was a tad dry, nothing special.

Deep Fried Prawn and Mango Rolls was not uncommon either.

Steamed Carrot Cake with Conpoy was pretty good. I preferred this over the Pan-fried version.

Steamed Cheong Fan with Sliced Fish is pretty special since the filling is usually Char Siew, You Tiao or Prawns. I thought this was very well executed, the cheong fan having the texture of smooth pig fats and sliced fish going well with the light sauce.

Steamed Siew Mai with Pig Liver, just a minor tweak to the steamed Siew Mai though I didn’t think the liver added any value to the Siew Mai.

Steamed Siew Mai with Fresh Scallop was great. Lots of crunchy prawn fillings and a nice umami flavour. I find Hua Ting really does well in delivering it’s dim sum staples.

Steamed Chicken with Dried Fish Belly. Wasn’t taken by the steamed chicken but I liked how the sauce complemented the springy fish maw.

Pan Fried Carrot Cake with Conpoy

Steamed Custard Buns were really good. I seldom order this during dim sum brunches but this has definitely made me a convert. Another dish that has a healthy balance of sweet and savoury with a strong hint of salted egg yolk. Really really yummy…

Traditional “Lo Mai Kai” wrapped in Lotus Leaf was unsatisfactory. The rice was too dry and tough.

Hua Ting has revamped its dim sum menu since my last visit and though I’m missing some of the “old” dishes that are unavailable now such as the Char Siew Sou and the Steamed Mushroom stuffed with Scallop, Hua Ting still does a great job with the dim sum essentials, (essentially anything that is steamed with prawn).

Bon Appetit!

HUA TING

442 ORCHARD ROAD, ORCHARD HOTEL

TEL: +65 6739 6666





Lao Beijing – A High Tea Buffet Pictorial

2 08 2010

Run by the Tung Lok Group, Lao Beijing might not be in the running for Singapore’s Best Dim Sum, but priced at a modest $10.20++ for Weekdays between 3pm – 5pm, it’s definitely in the running for Cheapest Dim Sum Buffet around.

When you pay peanuts you get monkeys. The dim sum buffet here is self-service for the most part so you have to physically go and select your dim sum off the buffet counter. 

I wouldn’t say that the variety of dim sum available is plentiful since several staple items like Har Kows, Char Siew Puff Pastry & Fried Prawn Dumplings seemed to be missing but it is definitely sufficient with Sweet & Sour Soup, a myriad of appetizers, Dumplings and Dessert. A non-ala carte dim sum buffet spells trouble though, since good dim sum will never have to endure prolonged steaming. Fortunately, some items like the Xiao Long Baos still remained ala carte style, whew…

A sweet dessert to wash down any unctuousness and signaling the end of our high tea buffet.

Nothing very spectacular about the dim sum @ Lao Beijing but it sure is an ideal place for XLB spamming and lazing a good part of the afternoon away without busting your wallet!

Bon Appetit!

 

 

LAO BEIJING

68 ORCHARD ROAD, #03-01 PLAZA SINGAPURA

TEL: +65 6738 7207





Shang Palace – Missing an Imperial Chef

19 06 2010

Following last year’s successful 38th anniversary promotion, Shangri La has decided to do a follow up promotion for their 39th anniversary this year! So all online bookings made for The Line(For Buffet), Nadaman(Japanese), The Rose Veranda(High Tea) and Shang Palace(Chinese) will be offered with a 39% discount off the total bill(for reservations made up to 39 days in advance for 39% of each restaurant’s seating capacity). Cool Beans!  

   

It’s a 5 star hotel with 5 star restaurants, or is that just too presumptious of me? I haven’t heard much of Shang Palace, unlike more reputable Chinese Restaurants such as Wah Lock, Hai Tian Lou, Royal China etc but I thought it should be fine, it’s Shangri La after all!    

The interior decor is pretty sheek, especially with the numerous private rooms that can sit up to 18 people for some…I counted.    

    

I shall categorize the dim sum accordingly, the “average” and the “bad”. I couldn’t find any dim sum that deserved to be grouped under “Good”.    

The Average    

 The Roast Pork was crispy indeed but with a strong gamey smell which irked me and it’s damnnnnnnn salty.     

Crispy Roast Pork($12++)

 

 It tastes and feels like a carrot cake from a neighbourhood hawker stall actually, lacking the contrast of crispy exterior from soft mushy interior.    

Pan-Fried Turnip Cake($4.50++)

 

 One of the better items today, I’m just such a fan of scallops… 

Steam Siew Mai with Conpoy($4.80++)

 

 More Scallops…mmmhhh…     

Steamed Seaweed Scallop Dumpling($6.80++)

 

Passable Har Kows.     

Steamed Har Kow($4.80++)

 

 There was less soup than I would like and it lacked the umami component that we all love so much in an awesome XLB. The meat fillings were also too starchy!   

Steamed Xiao Long Baos($4.80++)

 

It’s a more colourful looking and allegedly healthier Har Kow!   

Steamed Spinach Prawn Dumpling($4.80++)

    

Now for the BAD!    

 It’s not foul but just that I have eaten so many better ones around, this one comes across as below average as the prawns fillings aren’t very springy.     

Crisp-Fried Beancurd Skin Roll, Prawn($4.50++)

 

 You don’t even have to go there to try it. From the picture, you can probably already tell that the rice roll layers are too thick and chewy.     

Steamed Rice Rolls($4.80++)

 

We had the Century Egg as well as the Fish Congee and it wasn’t impressive. I gave up halfway and it was only a half-bowl since it was shared.     

Congee(Choice of Century Egg, Fish, Seafood, Pork or Chicken @ $10++)

 

 Didn’t like it. Too bland…    

Steamed Assorted Mushroom Crystal Dumpling($4.50++)

 
That is one badass thick opaque dumpling skin if I ever saw one. It reminds me more of a thick skinned hakka Soon Kueh lol.   

Steamed Teochew Dumplings($4.50++)

 

 I was really disappointed by the dry, almost tasteless Char Siew Paos. It’s worse than coffeeshop or even 7-11 ones.    

Steam Pork Paos($4.50++)

 

I’d prefer if they just stick to the normal Sze Chuan Sauce. 

Steamed Black Pepper Chicken Feet($4.50++)

 

The combination of Black Bean + Salt used was overkill. More tea PLZ!  

Steamed Pork Rib, Black Bean & Taro($4.50++)

Bah. For me this was a real bad dim sum session and I wouldn’t come back even with a discount. Service was fine but really…the food’s not worth the stomach room.  

Bon Appetit!

  

 

SHANG PALACE

22 ORANGE GROVE ROAD, SHANGRI-LA HOTEL 

TEL: +65 6213 4473








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