Monday blue?? What about Monday eating? Well you can at one of the best restaurants in the world with Robyn’s Wanderings’ columnist Emily Ross this week.
Where? Where else….Hong Kong! This week she discovered just how many pork buns and how much snow fungus soup she could eat!
As promised, dear readers, a thorough review of my culinary adventure at Tim Ho Wan, the Dim Sum Specialists – the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world.
I could barely contain myself. I’ll go right ahead and admit it. My favourite part of travelling is eating new food (and eating GOOD food). I will try anything once, and I recommend every traveller does that same. Somebody likes it for a reason…close your eyes and try it! You’ll probably be surprised how good *insert obscure foodstuff* tastes!
So as you can imagine, the thought of going to a local haunt where the average wait for a table is 2 to 3 hours filled me with anticipation. This was gonna be good. A woman at the door gave us a piece of paper with our number (228) scribbled across it. Also printed on the paper were the menu and some tick boxes so we could fill out what we wanted as we waited.
Having arrived at 6.45 on a Thursday, we magically got in after 45 minutes – we got there right before the crowds hit. Having talked to locals afterwards, they were flat out amazed at our luck. So don’t go on a weekend and don’t leave it til late! Now…onto the food. We tried a fair amount but I’ll be returning again to try the rest, make no mistake!
Pork buns (cha siu baau) – The house specialty. I was told before visiting that if I did not try the Barbecue Pork buns, I shouldn’t bother going at all. They look like innocent bread rolls…but oh. Oh. They are so, so much more. Usually, cha siu baau are steamed and as a result look slightly anaemic. The bread is soft and fluffy nonetheless. At Tim Ho Wan, however, they are baked – and best tasted when piping hot from the oven. The buns are crispy on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside…and don’t forget the barbecue pork! They’re filled with diced slow roasted pork and a yummy barbecue sauce. I dreamt of them that night.
Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (ha jiao) – Simple and delicious. The shrimp were fresh and perfectly cooked. And such a pretty pink colour! The dumpling skin was delicate and tender. So so yummy. Should have ordered more!
Steamed Dumpling in Chiu Chow Style – From what I could figure out, these were filled with peanuts, chives, pork, mushrooms and garlic. Wikipedia tells me there were probably shrimp in them as well. Whatever there was, they were delicious – the different textures combined with flavour made them stand out from other dumplings I’ve had in Hong Kong. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen these cooked on the street in the Mong Kok district, I’ll definitely be trying them to compare!
Glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in a lotus leaf – There’s a religious devotion amongst a few of the exchange students for this common Hong Kong street food but this was my first time trying it. Glutinous rice is just sticky rice (no gluten for all you coeliacs out there!). It was filled with chicken, pork, sausage and mushrooms in a savoury sauce and wrapped in a lotus leaf. I can see why it is worshipped so.
Steamed glutinous rice in Chui Chow Style –The sticky rice was wrapped in dumpling dough and steamed. It was surprisingly sweet and peanutty.
Pan fried turnip cakes – wobbly and sweet. They had pork in them so vegetarians beware! Actually, vegetarians will probably have to steer clear of Tim Ho Wan altogether. The only veggie friendly item we tried was the dessert (more on that later) and the steamed fresh vegetables (it was cabbage when we went but I think it varies from day to day).
Vermicelli roll stuffed with shrimp – These were strange! I liked the flavour but I found them slightly difficult to eat because of their shape and the texture of the wrapper. They look like dumplings pretending to be spring rolls but the dough is like noodle dough rather than dumpling wrapper – this makes it a bit more tender and as a result more prone to falling apart. Yummy but I’m not sure I’d order again.
Steamed pork and shrimp dumpling (siumai) – Siumai are always a different shape from your typical dumpling – they consist of a ball of ground pork and shrimp and the dumpling dough is shaped around it sort of like cupcake paper so that you can see the filling. Again, delicious. I haven’t liked the siumai I’ve had on the street but these were big, fresh and didn’t taste dodgy! Win!
Sweet Coconut and Snow Fungus Soup – We decided to go out on a limb and try it. The snow fungus was in a sweet, coconutty soup. I liked the texture of the snow fungus (kind of like seaweed) but the soup was a little on the sweet side for my taste.
All in all – LOVED it. And so cheap! With four servings of the pork buns (I know), two servings of the vermicelli rolls, steamed vegetables and one of all the remaining above dishes, the entire meal cost the five of us around 200 Hong Kong dollars. That was 40 Hong Kong dollars for person…also known as 5 US DOLLARS. I’m still craving pork buns. You can get takeaway from Tim Ho Wan but trust me, it’s worth the wait. Sit down at a table, get those pork buns straight from the oven and try as much as your stomach can handle! Happy eating!