On 10 April 2013, the famed One Michelin chain of eateries – Tim Ho Wan – opened its doors in Singapore at The Atruim@Orchard. Fast forward to 28 May 2013, more than a month later, and the dim sum serving eatery still boasts queues of more than an hour long throughout the day, even hitting three hours during peak periods!
What can I say, this is SINGAPORE and that is how we roll baby!!;]
Given our ‘kiasu‘ culture, long queues for good stuff and freebies are the norm, and so I was not the least bit surprised with the queue phenomenon happening outside Tim Ho Wan’s entrance. However, I did believe that the hype would die down after a few weeks and waiting times would return to normal so I gave Tim Ho Wan a wide berth during its opening month. I guess I underestimated the ‘perserverance’ of my fellow Singaporeans, I can safely say that this abnormally long queue time is here to stay for a long while. Thus, I decided to wait no more and headed down to join the queue at Tim Ho Wan;] I tried visiting the eatery at a weird timing around 2 P.M. but I still ended up queuing for more than an hour. Do take note that all members of your party must be present before they will bring you to your table, so if you are queuing on behalf of your friends, do make sure they arrive on time! There is also a take-away queue for those who just want a quick grab and go, but when the dine-in orders get too much to handle, they will close the take-away queue.
FINALLY! After braving the queue, I sit at the table of Tim Ho Wan Singapore!
The first dish we ordered was Tim Ho Wan’s famous specialty – the Baked Buns with BBQ Pork. I have long heard about this heavenly dish and the praises it has garnered. So popular is this bun that only one serving per person is allowed per table. Each serving comes with 3 buns, so a table with three patrons can order three servings which is equivalent to nine buns (3 x 3). You might think that nine buns is alot but believe me, this bun is so good that nine buns is not going to be enough!
Baked Bun with BBQ Pork – $4.50
The Baked Bun with BBQ Pork is just so mouth-watering simply because of its amazing texture. The crust of the baked bun is lightly crispy and crumbly, when you bite into it the layer just ‘melts’ in your mouth because it is so fluffy and soft. After breaching the exterior, the juicy tasty bbq pork filling fills your mouth and adds a burst of flavour onto your tastebuds. All in all the combination is just one delightful savory mouthful! After the first bite, you just can’t stop!
The dim sums were of good quality and didn’t disappoint. Given all the fuss and excitement about the place, the food was generally up to par with my expectations. The basic dim sums like the har gao (prawn dumpling), siew mai (pork dumpling), carrot cake and chicken feet were nicely done and enjoyable.
The vegetable dumpling is generously filled with ingredients and wrapped in a smooth translucent skin that is delicate yet sturdy. When you bite into it, the skin does not come apart which is how good dim sum skins should be – soft and smooth but not flimsy, sturdy but not tough:) I love the flavours of the spinach and mushrooms and this is a wonderful dish for both the veggie lover, as well as those who are not that keen on vegetables. My non-veggie loving friend tried it and gave it the thumbs up! The meat next to the eaten dumpling is the Pork Rib with Black Bean Sauce, it was yummy though i found it a little too fatty, had trouble finding a good chunk of meat but still loved it as it was very tasty.
The prawn dumplings were a delight. The skin was just nice, smooth yet sturdy, and also slightly chewy. As for the filling, the prawn was a nice firm, bouncy texture, just the way I like it. Definitely one of the better quality Har Gaos that I have tried. The Siew Mais (pork dumplings) were delicious as well but I forgot to take a close up because I gobbled them down too fast. Would strongly recommend you to order a basket if you like your Siew Mais.
The pan fried carrot cake is one of my favourite dishes so I had to order and try it here. Made of shredded radish and plain rice flour, this dish is also know as turnip cake outside of Singapore. The outer layer was a nice crisp texture, and the inside was soft and chewy. I loved the texture of the chopped radish bits and ham in the interior, it was rich, juicy and tasty. Overall, very yummy.
This dish is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. Just mention the word chicken feet and my two Gluttonian sisters go “Eeeee”. But for me, I just love them:) Tim Ho Wan’s chicken feet is one of the better offers of the dish that I have come across. The meat is tender and the skin tasty, it looks good and fleshier compared to the scrawny looking versions that I have been served at other places before. Not many people like eating this because of all the tiny bones that one has to spit out. But the unique texture of the skin, tendons and soft tissue is actually quite yummy once you get past the queasiness of putting a chicken feet into your mouth. I do recommend this dish, one of my food indulgences;]
This was a nice dish, but it wasn’t anything special. It was decently done texture-wise but I have tasted yummier versions elsewhere. I did not manage to try the other flavours of Cheong Fan as my tummy is only so big, but I hear that the meat filled Cheong Fans are good.
Soft sticky rice served with a good portion of ingredients (chicken chunks, mushrooms and more). I found this dish to be average at best, it was not as flavourful as I expected. My friend who tried this dish the last time she was here said that the dish tasted much better the other time round. Hence, maybe on this particular day the quality has dropped abit, so I cannot say for sure whether it is good in general. But for today, based on the plate I was served, it was just average.
This dish is served cold and contains Wolf Berries and Osmanthus flowers. Overall the cake was nice except…they put in too much Osmanthus flowers for my liking. I ended up having all these little flower petals stuck all over my tongue and palate as I was biting and chewing into the cake, which felt a bit uncomfortable. It is like drinking tea with all the tea leaves poured in. A little bit of leaves is fine and soothing, but a whole mouthful is a different story. Other than that, the Osmanthus Cake was perfect.
The Malay Cake is one of my favourite foods as it is so simple yet yummy if done right. It is best served piping warm, if it turns cold it would not taste as moist and smooth and soft, so always eat this dish immediately after it is served. I had such high hopes for this dish since alot of people who visited Tim Ho Wan have been raving about it online. However, I was not impressed. Indeed it was soft and warmly moist, but not as light and tasty as it could be. The branch in Hong Kong served a better tasting Malay Cake in my opinion. If you ask me, the best Malay Cake that I have tried so far comes from Hua Ting, a chinese fine dining restaurant at Orchard Hotel. Their Malay Cake is just so soft, light and yummy.
Taking all the food into consideration, Tim Ho Wan is definitely a great Dim Sum place to dine at. The food is generally pleasant and of good quality. Their signature Baked Bun with BBQ Pork is a VERY VERY MUST-TRY, you will not regret ordering it, but you will if you don’t;] I would recommend all their steamed dumplings as well such as their Har Gaos and Siew Mais, plus the pan fried carrot cake. Congee and rice dishes are available too but I have yet to try them, so do share with me your thoughts on those dishes if you have:)
If you love your Dim Sums, you should give Tim Ho Wan a visit as the food is good. As for the abnormal queues and waiting time, that is a personal dilemma that you have to figure out on your own. Put it this way – it is a good Dim Sum restaurant, but there ARE other good ones in Singapore too though less prominent in name. The popularity issue of Tim Ho Wan is clearly noted and it is set to open more outlets in Singapore in the near future, with Toa Payoh said to be the next location on the list.
But till then, the question on everyone’s mind for now will be “To wait, or not to wait”.
RESTAURANT: Tim Ho Wan (添好運)
SPIED AT: The Atrium@Orchard, #01-29A, Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road, Singapore (238839)
OPERATING HOURS: Monday to Sunday: 10 A.M. – 10 P.M.