Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong is a sensory overload of sorts. The glowing lights of Victoria Harbor, theme parks, tiny hotel rooms, and 8 million people jammed into a small area.
I experienced such an overload when I stepped foot inside Tim Ho Wan, the Michelin Starred dim sum restaurant. Located on the basement floor of a shopping mall in Central Hong Kong, an unbeknownst passerby wouldn’t think twice before walking right past the restaurant and down the escalator to the subway.
On a humid Thursday night in mid-April, I waited for 10 minutes in the mall before being seated. My options were between three restaurant-length communal tables or a handful of smaller tables. I sat sandwiched between two french women on my left and two chinese women on my right. The ratio of tourists to locals was about 50:50. For an extra 3HKD, I was given a glass, hot tea, dipping bowls, napkins and chopsticks.
Having handed in my order on a sushi-like check list just before I was seated, the food arrived shortly after, and to my surprise as the restaurant was bustling. On a small plate were three pork buns; deep-fried sweet batter surrounding equally sweet bbq-pork. The batter, on its own, could be marketed and sold as a pastry. The pork separated from the bun was an unforgettable sauce to b-b-q pork mixture. Together, they combined for something so unique, bordering on too large to lift with chopsticks that I admittedly used my hands. The dish is not only in its own category with regards to quality, but is its own category as a dish.
The other dishes, though smooth and delicious, served merely as a filler with which I bided my time before I was hungry enough again for another fried pork bun. Not to be missed was the turnip cake, also fried but to this day I still don’t know what a turnip is. I savored every bite. The steamed shrimp dumplings were simple, fresh, and a relative palate cleanser compared to the other, much heavier dishes. If I was a regular, I would order them for the combination of health and satisfaction; a combination rarely achieved.
I was too full to enjoy the minced beef in vermicelli roll, but at HK$15-25 a dish, I ate like a king.