In the past, Hong Kong has been an enigma for me. I wanted so much to like it — that place of Sino-Colonial influences, a melting pot of culture if ever there was one. A bustling, thriving city where the juxtaposition of old and new is omnipresent and the streets are filled with the clatter and clamor of millions. But my first two visits had been lackluster for reasons I couldn’t really figure out, and now I found myself in Hong Kong a third time, hoping for a different experience. If there’s one thing which can make me love a city, it’s food, and Hong Kong has that in abundance. So, on Alisha’s first day in the city, I figured we’d try eating dim sum in Hong Kong.
The drama, the charm and the beauty of Hong Kong is all here — just as is its breathless energy.” – Nury Vittachi
Our destination was Tim Ho Wan, located in Olympian City and the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. As such, it’s usually packed out, and Anson, Alisha and I had to wait on the sidewalk before we were allowed inside. As we sat down, we glanced around at the oddly Western-looking interior and raised our eyebrows, but a few good sniffs dispelled any doubts as to the worthiness of the place. We were hungry, and Tim Ho Wan smelled fantastic.
Our first dish was siu mei, baked buns with BBQ pork. By far the most impressive dish of the night, the buns were just the right amount of crispy and filled with perfectly spiced BBQ pork. One bun apiece wasn’t nearly enough, so we ordered seconds later on.
Our next dish was ha jiao, or steamed fresh shrimp dumplings. While not quite as enchanting as the siu mei, they were nonetheless delicious, particularly when seasoned with a conservative amount of soy sauce.
By the time we’d finished our dumplings, the next dish had arrived: sin jok eun, or shrimp wrapped in bean curd skin. It was decent, though I’m still not sure I’m a fan of bean curd, red bean, or anything of the like. That seems to be something even 3 years in Asia can’t cure. Nonetheless, the sauce the wraps were smothered in was tasty, and I hoovered mine in short order.
The next dish may well have been the strangest of the night: ngau yok kow, or beef balls with egg curd skin. The taste was fine, but the consistency was a little too much like meatballs made of scrambled eggs for my liking.
Always inflicted with a chronic case of sweet-tooth-itis, I pushed for a few dessert options to round out the night. The first was ma lai gou, or steamed egg cake. A slightly sweet sponge cake, it made for a nice morsel after the savory dishes and would’ve gone over even better with a drizzle or more of chocolate. As would most things…
The last dish finished the night on a high note: lai wong bau, or deep fried custard buns. I like healthy food as much as the next bloke, but a sweet bun filled with custard and then deep-fried? Someone pinch me, please. Yeah, it was just as good as you’d imagine.
If you’re thinking of eating dim sum in Hong Kong, Tim Ho Wan is a solid choice. The menu is extensive and there is an English version available. The restaurant decor and service are mediocre, but the food is tasty and it’s cheap — even by Hong Kong standards. Definitely worth a visit!
Ever had dim sum? What are some of your favorites? Share them in the comments below!