Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tim Ho Wan: Michelin Star worth the accolade?

Tim Ho Wan, a Hong Kong eatery doing dim sum gain notoriety when it won a Michelin star in the Hong Kong Michelin Guide. This was because it lays claim not only to the coverted star, but also to the fact that it is cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world.

When the first branch opened in Plaza Singapura, it gained further notoriety due to the amazingly long queues that form just to get a seat. The restaurant practices a no reservations policy, so patrons must stand in line, often for up to more than an hour. A second outlet opened at Toa Payoh, but pretty soon, the queues also start to form. I normally would avoid having to queue, but for this, I made an exception, as the family wanted to try. About 25minutes later, we got in. The restaurant had a very Hong Kong feel...a bit cramped, a bit hurried. But all part of the fun.

The menu recommended the Four Heavenly Kings...comprising of the following...first the vermicellin roll with char siew and prawns.

Nice. The soy sauce was a bit on the salty side, a tinge of saltiness which permeates the taste. The char siew was good, also a touch heavy in salt. Nice, well rounded taste.

Second amongst the heavenly kings is the pan fried carrot cake

Lightly crisp with nice lightly burnt edges and sides. The insides were soft, very moist and starchy with a beautiful filling of radish with bits of chnese sausage. Very nice.

The steamed egg cake is the third...

Another interesting cake. Light, beautifully steamed. With a very fragrant gula melaka and coconut flavours. The texture is very soft, but with a consistently that makes it a bit springy. Nice too. Not very sweet.

And finally their piece de resistance, the baked bbq pork buns

A crisp, cracking like, sugary skin covers the upper part of a soft, moist bun, breaking open to a nice char siew inside.

Quite special. Each order comes on a plate of 3 paus. And one diner is only allowed one plate each. The restaurant does not offer take aways, but with this allowance, diners are allowed to pack what they cannot finish, and most tables order the max, so that they can take away the remainder. So did we, but when cold, the marvellous crispiness of the covering sugary stuff is softened, taking away from the nice experience of biting into the bun.

We had the usual har kau

Rather standard...though measured with a very tough yardstick. The skin was thin, almost transluscent. The prawn filling fresh, crunchy.

The preserved egg with lean meat porridge

Quite regular Cantonese congee, very smooth porridge, with fragrant and nice preserved egg and lean meat. Good...very good and in line with that of a highly regarded restaurant.

A pork chang was also tried...

wrapped in a lotus leaf, with glutinous rice, pork, egg yolk, chinese sausages. Very good.

A bean curd roll was also ordered..

Like most of the other dishes, a tad saltish, but this forms a nice base for the taste. The bean curd skin is very nice, with great consistency, and the fillings were prawn in a prawn/pork paste.

And finally a dessert...osmentus jelly

Also very nice, lightly sweet, with a wonderful aroma. Nice.

Overall, Tim Ho Wan was nice. The food very good. I am not sure if it is special enough to deserve a Michelin star or the long queues, but very good.

Tim Ho Wan
ERA Centre, 450 Toa Payoh Lorong 6,
#02-02, Singapore 319394
+65-6483-2000 (no, they do not accept reservations)

Photonote: Still continuing on the series with photographs taken with the Iphone 5s. This time, using the Apple's Photo Stream to automatically resize the photographs to smaller ones. I am rather satisfied with the sharpness and crispness of the photographs. The AWB is also quite good, only a very small amount of adjustment is sufficient. The only small nitpick is the depth of field is rather large, so to do selective focussing with nice bokeh is not possible. This is due to the small sensor size.

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