Posts Tagged ‘dumplings’

getting down to it as soon as you arrive in HK: tim ho wan

In places on December 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm

much ado has been made about tim ho wan – cheapest michelin star restaurant – and we will ado with everybody else because hey, we’ve never had michelin star food before. we went to the branch at the IFC mall because that was the easiest to get to. as soon as we got off the airport express at the hong kong station, we took the lift one level up and looked for the crowd. so there we were with our backpacks milling about like everybody else.

because this was our very first time, we ordered what a lot of people had already recommended, starting with the roasted pork bun (HKD 19, P105 for 3 pieces)


the short of it is this is toasted siopao. but of course it is a little more complex than that. the bun is very light with a thin layer of crispness on the outside. it is also slightly sweet. then the filling is thick and sweet and salty. yes, rather delicious. but cloying, the sweetness becomes overwhelming and a tad one-dimensional. we could only eat one apiece. making us the only people we’ve read about who aren’t willing to gobble these down by the dozen.

another house specialty is the steamed egg cake (HK$14, P75)


aka, puto binan. very good, but unremarkable.

now the next dish is what bowled us over. a favorite of ours – radish cake (HK$14 P75)


this we found most delicious. delicate, subtle. adjectives you wouldn’t normally use when describing radish cake. but there you go. so good it puts us at a loss how we can ever eat radish cake anywhere else.

on another visit (we ate there twice in 2 days in HK – would’ve done a 3rd but our flight left before they opened in the morning), we had chicken feet (HK$26, P145)¬†and beef ball wrapped in bean curd skin (HK$15, P75)


very tasty. the chicken feet were exceptionally plump – and we honestly don’t want to think about that too much. this beef ball is also rather delicate and fragrant – full of flavor, but not in any way that dulls the flavor of other dishes. something to order again.

we also had har gaw (HK$25, P130) and kutchai dumplings (HK$25, P130) which had exceptional texture and great freshness.


we realized that one big differentiator was the wrap. the dumpling wrap at tim ho wan is at once light and thin and sturdy. not at all like the clumsier thick wraps of a lot of chain places and even some of the more specialized restaurants. we also had the rice roll stuffed with pig’s liver (HK$20, P110) which also demonstrated this balance.

and then dessert. tonic medlar and petal cake (HK$ 12, P70)


everybody at the restaurant would order this and with good reason. it’s so good. very cool, refreshing. floral, yes a little. actually the perfect end to a tim ho wan meal. don’t skip this.

in the end, we mused about the whole michelin star thing and realized that a lot of what separates cooks (even good cooks) from great cooks and professionals is technique. it’s not just the flavor, but – for example – the making of a dumpling wrap that is so light it doesn’t interfere with what’s inside. or getting that bun the right crisp.

so does tim ho wan deserve a michelin star? well, we don’t have the creds to answer that. but we have eaten enough to know that what they do is certainly exceptional and you must try it.

and just a couple of days ago we got news that they are opening in megamall. how about that.

lau pa sat – one of the older and more popular hawker stalls in singapore

In places on January 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm

for our last dinner, we decided to ask the hotel staff for a recommendation. our only condition was that it should be a hawker place. one suggestion was lau pa sat around raffles avenue. since we were headed to that part of town, that’s where we decided to eat.

the place is apparently a tourist attraction in itself having been opened as a market in the late 1800s. today, it’s a food center surrounded by the tall buildings of the central business district

the structure is quite charming, marred only by the rather awful live entertainment at the center.

not having had dimsum at all during the trip, we decided to try that starting with a vegetable dumpling

this was followed by the one thing i always have at any chinese place: shrimp dumplings or hakaw

the outstanding quality of these dumplings were their lightness. the dough was nowhere near as thick as what we’re used to here. the wrapping was really more of just a vessel to keep the filling in. much appreciated. very nice. sadly, this was the best part of the meal.

next up was popia

it wasn’t bad, but after all the hefty chinese lumpia here in manila, this one felt like it lacked in muscle.

then we had what we really came for: crab. first up, chili

from the outset it was already a little disappointing because the crab was on the scrawny side. but then it was really not fun because the sauce tasted bottled. like one of these sweet chili sauces from del monte. sad.

a little better was the black pepper crab

i love the concept of this dish, and trying this at lau pa sat gave us the idea: we should go back to toa payoh and have it there.