Ever since the Tim Ho Wan wave hit Hong Kong back when it was first crowned, I have been wanting and waiting to savour Tim Ho Wan's take on the classic world-famous Chinese leg of cuisine (the "Yum Cha" culture). With its Central branch opening a while ago at the basement of IFC which made queueing and waiting much more bearable (given that the waiting area is indoor as opposed to its original first branch in MK), I put it striaght on my to-go list.
It was a Friday when I visited. Given that I was on leave, I volunteered to head over early to queue for a table. My friend A, having dined in the Central branch several times already, suggested me to go at around 12:15pm (according to her experience, this will "ensure" a table just before 1pm). Lots of people outside the restaurant when I arrived at around 12:20pm. Do not be discouraged though. Many actually were there for take-outs. Yes, take-outs. I envy those working at IFC / Exchange Square; a good and cute option for "afternoon teas" . Having "registered", I was promptly given the "dim sum" sheet. Not many choices; but you won't fail to find the classics and all are very tempting. You could choose what you want during your wait, and the hostess will collect your order sheet just before you are seated. Love this arrangement which maximises efficiency!!
The hostess at the front desk was actually quite nice and reasonable. As I stood near the front desk, there were at least 3-4 pairs/groups of people who missed their table (they were not around when their numbers were called earlier). The hostess was understanding and made arrangements for them all to be seated as soon as possible. Good Service.
After 35-40 minutes or so (my friend was right), my friend joined me and we were seated. The restaurant, as expected, was very basic and brought to us the classic hustle and bustle of yum-cha places.
Chicken Feet. This dish was spot-on; it was served with a hearty sauce which compliments the unique taste of chicken feet and each chicken feet has nice puffy skin. Very tasty and easy to eat - with each piece evenly and generously soaked and coloured by deep abalone sauce. Instead of the regular prawn dumplings, we opted for one of the specials: diced bell peppers, honey beans and prawn dumpling! (Note: apart from the regulars, Tim Ho Wan has 2-3 specials on the dim sum sheet which change from time to time. I agreed with my friend A that this is a good arrangement which serves as an extra incentive to lure customers back to try the superb classics as well as new specials.) Now back to the steamed dumpling itself. As you could undoubtedly notice from the photo, the colours of bell peppers show beautifully through the translucent dumpling skin which was thin and elastic. The filing with a mixture of bell peppers, honey beans and prawn was substantial and extremely juicy; the bell peppers and honey beans went very well with the prawn bringing a sense of freshness without overpowering it. Shumai. The most classic Shumais are ones which are filled with pork and mushroom. The variation served in Tim Ho Wan is nonetheless named as the prawn-Shumai-"KING". You see... I am usually slightly sceptical when restaurants associate their food with grand words like "king", given that very often it is just the name without substance. Now - this Shumai-king served here though was awesome. The filing was super generous and I could clearly and easily identify both prawn and pork in the filing as I enjoy my full mouthful. Cooked to perfection, retaining the freshness and displaying, what I would call, "tender crisp". Another fine example of how common/simple food can be so hearty. BBQ pork cheong fan. I was not surprised when I saw how translucent and pearly the cheong fan skin was (many people have raved about this !). Indeed, The cheong fan skins could be ambassadors for masks of skin-care product lines. Despite being so soft and ever so silky, it stayed well in shape when we held it up with chopsticks. It would have been even better though if there was a bit more BBQ pork fillings. Purely amazing. Never, ever, has there been such a blissful combination of sweet and savory, crumbliness and tenderness. Served pipping hot (and I mean it!). The crispy and crumbly sugar glaze on top of the deep fried bun, paired with the savoury BBQ pork, succulent and tender, is a match made in heaven. I was blown away - highly highly recommended!
Excellent example of how good food does not have to be expensive.
Now that Tim Ho Wan has 4 branches, my immediate concern would be whether it can retain its standard among all branches. And if it continues to expand, what business model it would employ.