Born and raised in Hong Kong, Chef Mak Kwai Pui garnered vast culinary experience working at renowned hotels, before he eventually set up his first restaurant, Tim Ho Wan.
Shortly within a year of business, Tim Ho Wan was awarded one Michelin star for its remarkable array of dim sum; it wasn’t long before the business expanded from one outlet to four in Hong Kong.
This April 2013, Tim Ho Wan’s first-ever overseas outlet opens at The Atrium@Orchard, Plaza Singapura –a highly accessible and bustling mall just above the MRT station.
Without a doubt, Singaporeans eagerly welcome the arrival of this prestigious yet humble establishment; the intrigued crowd peering into the restaurant before it officially opens is proof.
I can’t remember if it was one or two hours that we waited for a seat at one of the oldest Tim Ho Wan outlet in Hong Kong. The queue was snaking long –a true test of patience, in which those in the queue fared really well. While waiting in line, we made markings beside the names of the items we wanted on the order chit (ask for an English version if you can’t read Chinese characters), and passed it to the staff manning the front. Once we had gotten our seats, (or rather, angular stools), stools at a table shared with several strangers, our order was swiftly processed and reached our table within minutes. You’re not compelled to eat at a frantic pace, but when you take into consideration those waiting eagerly and hungrily in the queue outside, you’d just want to pause all conversations and concentrate on the food –well, that’s if the food isn’t already tempting enough for you to shut up and eat. This sums up my experience at Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong.
Singaporeans, do not fret. This new outlet boasts comfortable cushioned seats in a spacious setting, also implementing a queue number system so patrons do not have to wait in line, since reservations are not accepted. Go shopping with ease while waiting; you will receive an SMS notification when your table is ready.
There’s also a takeaway counter offering express service for those of you who wish to savour in the comforts of your own homes.
Pan Fried Carrot Cake ($4.50 for 3pcs)
The Pan Fried Carrot Cake is amongst the ‘Big 4 Heavenly Kings’, alongside the Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver, Baked Bun with BBQ Pork and Steamed Egg Cake.
Juicy chunks of radish are interspersed within the soft starchy steamed cake for a textural mouthfeel. I would eat three plates of this if you placed them in front of me!
Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver ($5.50)
If animal organs do not make you feel queasy, the Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver is a must-try. It’s also one of my personal favourites, for the liver is steamed till succulent and tender, without the usually powdery texture, wrapped in smooth translucent sheets that are soaked in a subtly sweet and savoury light sauce.
Baked Bun with BBQ Pork ($4.50 for 3pcs)
The Baked Bun with BBQ Pork received the most votes across the table. Its crumbly yet fluffy dough, encrusting oozy and flavourful barbecued pork filling, has won the hearts of many.
Steamed Egg Cake ($3.80 for 1pc)
I didn’t agree with my dining companions on this item, as they seemed to enjoy this thoroughly to the very last morsel, while I barely took more than two bites. Perhaps I was hankering for something sweeter and more complex; I found this to be a tad flat with no dimensions of taste and textures, and my sweet tooth certainly didn’t approve of this either.
For something light and spongy, without being cloyingly sweet, the item would make the cut.
Pork Dumpling with Shrimp ($5 for 4pcs)
The Pork Dumpling calls for multiple orders. Those with a penchant for steamed dim sum will hardly be disappointed; the quality and freshness speak for themselves.
The Prawn Dumpling ($5.50 for 4pcs) was so popular they ran out of it towards the end of our dinner –thank goodness we had our fill of it. Boy were we satisfied with the sizable and succulent prawn filling that’s encased in a delicate translucent skin.
Beef Ball with Beancurd Skin ($4.20 for 3pcs)
The Beef Ball with Beancurd Skin is nothing like I’ve had before, and something I would definitely order again in future. I was intrigued by its bouncy yet oh-so-tender consistency. The beancurd skin is almost silky smooth, as opposed to the typical rubbery-like texture that I abhor. This marks the very first time I’m willing to swallow beancurd skin.
Spring Roll with Egg White ($4.20 for 3pcs)
The Spring Roll with Egg White is by far the best meatless spring rolls I’ve ever had. The egg white filling provides a burst of creaminess underneath that crisp skin. I would eat a truckload of these if they didn’t come with calories.
Tonic Medlar & Osmanthus Cake ($3.50 for 3pcs)
The Tonic Medlar & Osmanthus Cake ends the meal on a light but gratifying note.
I’m surprised the prices are kept within a reasonable price range (starting from $3.80), given its reputation and popularity, and despite its prime location and high rental. Tim Ho Wan lives up to its reputation, and hopefully the quality will remain consistently superb in this Singapore outlet.
Tim Ho Wan Singapore
#01-29A, Plaza Singapura
Monday to Sunday: 10am to 10pm