Last week, Tim Ho Wan finally opened its doors to the Melbourne public to show case their Michelin starred yum cha style offerings. Now, I haven’t been to the original restaurant in Hong Kong. I have nothing to reference my opinions on but, I can tell you that I was really looking forward to see what all the hype was about given the fact I was willing to wait in the line extending around the corner of the restaurant for a good half hour. The things we do to for a good feed right?
This is what it looked like at around 2:30pm on a Tuesday afternoon.
I couldn’t resist taking some sneaky pics while waiting in line at the arcade.
From the highly anticipated Four Heavenly Kings which include the infamous BBQ pork baked buns, pan fried turnip cake, steamed egg cake and vermicelli roll with pig’s liver to a variety of seasonal special dim sum, Tim Ho Wan surprisingly did not have much else to offer.
The first thing my friend and I noticed was how limited the menu was. Everything they had to offer, fitted neatly on a one page picture menu.
To make the ordering process run smoothly, patrons are all given a little clip board to pre-select their orders. So that once seated, you may be ready to order immediately and therefore cutting down the time wasted deciding on what you want to have. By the time my friend and I were directed to a seat, we had already decided on what we wanted to order.
We ordered a selection of six dishes which included the BBQ baked pork buns, pan fried turnip cake, wasabi salad prawn dumpling, spinach dumpling with shrimp, vermicelli roll with shrimp and rice with chicken, Chinese sausage and mushroom. Most of the dishes came out quite quickly except for the vermicelli roll with shrimp which took another 10 minutes. We didn’t receive any water despite having asked three times until we had already finished our meal which was a bit disappointing.
Spinach dumpling with shrimp $7.80
Encased in a thin clear skin, these spinach and shrimp dumplings had just the right balance of spinach and shrimp inside them. They had a nice bite without being overly chewy.
I was initially expecting a steamed glutinous rice dish, but using normal rice was surprising good as well. Served with a very light soy based sauce broth, the rice inside was very soft and and almost stew like. The tender steamed chicken was bursting with umami flavours infused with shitake mushroom. I found the Chinese sausage surprisingly quite soft, which is something different to how I would normally eat it.
My friend found the pan fried turnip cake quite bland. Overall very soft but not crispy on the outside at all.
The BBQ pork in these sweet baked buns lacked depth in flavour. There wasn’t a lot of meat with its gravy like consistency and lack of depth in BBQ flavour that we had both been anticipating. I personally found the bun too sweet and would much rather have the baked buns filled with some sort of custard or cream as a dessert instead. Neither my friend or I were a fan of these and struggled to eat them.
These on the other hand were good. Fried dumplings wrapped in wonton like skin with the thickness of spring roll pastry, these crispy little morsels were a delight in texture and taste. We couldn’t however really taste the wasabi flavour in the salad as it was called, and figured that the tobiko and wasabi mayo like drizzle was more for presentation than taste.
The vermicelli roll could be described as small whole shrimp rolled up in thin sheets of steamed rice flour served with a sweet soy sauce like dressing. All is served warm which was really nice except that they could have added a little more seasoning to the sauce as it was very mildly flavoured.
It wasn’t that the food was bad but the fact that the place had be hyped up so much that our expectations of the place was just unrealistic. Their popular BBQ pork baked bun and pan fried turnip cake were surprisingly our least favourite despite it being the only thing that made the place worth visiting for others. When you consider everything else to be served at a yum cha styled restaurant, Tim Ho Wan fell short of providing the elements which make up the experience of having traditional yum cha such as a pot of Chinese tea. As a Chinese restaurant, Tim Ho Wan generally does well to provide tasty food albeit for a premium price. But as a yum cha restaurant, it’s not one I would been overly keen to recommend or take my parents to.