Update: ‘A’ finally visited THW and she did try the fish maw with prawn paste and the tonic medlar & osmanthus cake (see the review below!) Also, the hype and the lines have died down significantly. I was seated in two minutes of standing in a short line, served as soon as I was ready to order. The first dish came out within 5 minutes and ALL the dishes came in a stream after that. I think they learnt the beauty of efficiency 😉 But would I come back for any of their dishes…. mmmm… no, I think normal yum cha in the suburbs is just as good.
The Top Line: Craving some good yum cha food? Try Tim Ho Wan – the cheapest Michelin star restaurant! We went at an awkward time of 3-4pm (most other yum cha places would be closed after lunch time) and there were no lines at all! Would I line up for this? Maybe, though probably no longer than the usual time I would wait for other yum cha places though. Would I wait 2 hours + for this? No.
The Review: Ever since Tim ho wan announced it would be landing in Sydney, I was very excited for its opening. It has been open for a few weeks already and we heard about the massive lines of up to a 2.5 hours wait!! The original plan that day was to line up for the free Ben & Jerry’s cone but when we saw the line for that extended and snaked all around the Chatswood theatre area – yeah, ain’t nobody have time for that… We were hungry and disappointed at that point so we thought we’ll check out the lines for THW since it was nearby. And, tada! There was no line AT ALL!! (We suspect that everyone else was lining up for the Ben & Jerry’s cone so yay for us! 🙂 ) Once we’re in, I was quite surprised at the size of the restaurant. It was smaller than what I was expecting since most yum cha places are huge and the tables were placed quite close to each other. I had to squeeze myself through to reach the inside sofa seat. Instead of the traditional trolley ladies shouting out har gow and siu mai, we were given a list of their food and had to order by writing down the quantity next to the corresponding food name. First time yum cha-ing and you don’t know what to order? Fear not, they also have a picture menu for you to look at 🙂
Having heard so many raves about the baked pork buns, it was, of course, a must order for us and it did not disappoint. At first, I was expecting the crispy top layer similar to the slightly harder top layer of a pineapple bun but instead, this had a soft yet also crispy and crumbly texture. It also had a mild salty taste to it and it reminded me of salty original flavoured pringles. So combine original flavoured Pringles and a char siu bao and bam, you have your famous THW baked pork buns 😀
While I heard so much about the famous baked pork buns, I’m surprised I barely heard any raves about these wasabi salad prawn dumplings because I actually like this more than the buns. But then again, I am that person who orders deep fried food at yum cha (think of fried squid, fried whitebait, fried dumplings etc) more than the actual steamed food. Yeah, I don’t tend to order the usual yum cha staples like siu mai and chicken feet. Why? Hmm good question…:P The prawn filling was very generous and prawns were also very plump. Quite happy with this since I still felt unsatisfied from lack of plump prawns in my prawn wonton noodles a few days ago. The crispy exterior also satisfied my crunch cravings so this dish definitely did not disappoint. So what makes this different to other prawn dumplings from other yum cha joints? The wasabi mayo and roe on top. You don’t usually find this combination together and it was a very interesting dish. The wasabi flavour was very subtle (since it was mix mayo) and the roe gave additional texture and the combination of these balanced out very nicely.
Another yum cha favourite of mine would be the mango pomelo sago. This tastes just like the mango pomelo sago from Hong Kong. It was a sweet enough dessert but not too sweet and it was served cold which makes it even better! There was alot of mango, pomelo and sago pieces. However, while it does tastes slightly better than other yum cha joints, there was nothing too special about this. Would I pay $6 again for this? Probably not because of the price but if I do have cravings for some good and undiluted mango pomelo sago, I might just cave in!
We also ordered extra dishes for takeaway. I ordered another set of the baked pork buns and wasabi prawn dumplings. My friend got the beef balls and siu mai so I can’t comment on the taste for those since I didn’t try any. Although the lady next to us said it was quite fatty and she had to spit the fatty parts back onto her plate. But I have heard good reviews on this, so I’m not sure what happened there.
Just a heads up, the service wasn’t that great. They were very disorganised but maybe because it’s still new. They overcharged us so it was a good thing that we kept track of what dishes we ordered and got that fixed. The table next to us ordered a plate of pan fried turnip cake and they asked for some ho sin/peanut sauce for it. But the waitress replied saying there was no sauce for this dish which surprised our neighbouring couple and us because turnip cake without sauce is like eating chips without chicken salt or ketchup. However, on the positive note, I like that we have to order from the paper menu which means that our food would still be warm and fresh when they arrive at our table. And, the store was blasting classic Hong Kong songs which gave me a sense of nostalgia because I know these songs since I was small and it really did feel like I was in Hong Kong for a while. Would I come back again? Yeah, why not? I would love to try the fish maw with prawn paste and the tonic medlar & osmanthus cake! But would I wait 2.5 hours for this? Most likely not… -K
Fish maw with prawn paste
I think this was the most expensive thing on the menu!! Two of these little fish maw things (what is fish maw even?!) for $6.80, I believe. The taste was yummy but honestly, I would not pay $3.40 for one. (I guess because it was on a menu and it was ‘yum cha’, I felt less ripped off), but it wasn’t spectacular. The was texturous and definitely not mushy, which is a wonderful thing! It came in this clear sauce, which has a thick gooey consistency and had a very umami taste, which enhanced the fish maw a lot.
Tonic medlar & osmanthus cake
OK, this was actually one of the best dishes I had at THW. It was such a refreshing dessert – light, sweet but not too sweet, felt healthy and the little texture of the osmanthus flowers was great! The strong and pleasant scent of the flowers could also be tasted. The little goji berries in there also burst with healthy juices upon each bite! I liked it because it was more than plain jelly… it had a fancy name but the jelly sort of lived up to that! (Although i’m really not sure about the tonic medlar part…)