Monday, January 6, 2014

"HK's Most Famous Dim Sum" - Tim Ho Wan, Bedok Mall

When a restaurant labels itself as "Hong Kong's most famous Dim Sum," one can't help but to wonder how exactly those claims are substantiated. Perhaps there's an International Dim Sum Association somewhere that regularly conducts worldwide telephone polls to gauge each famous restaurant's popularity? In Tim Ho Wan's case, the evidence does seem to corroborate the claims. After all its first outlet opened in Plaza Singapura to epic 3 hour long queues!

Tim Ho Wan Bedok Mall

Fast forward half a year later and the queues have died down somewhat - perhaps mostly because a second outlet was opened in Toa Payoh, and a third one last month in the newly launched Bedok Mall. The queues haven't totally gone, though - they've just shrunk to a more reasonable 20-30 minutes. So we finally pay a visit to see what the fuss is about.

Tim Ho Wan Bedok Mall Baked Bun with BBQ Pork
Baked Bun with BBQ Pork

Tim Ho Wan Bedok Mall Chee Cheong Fun with Pig Liver and Steamed Egg Cake
Chee Cheong Fun (steamed rice roll) with Pig's Liver and Steamed Egg Cake

Right off the bat we notice that although the look-and-feel is very much a 'mass market' Dim Sum restaurant, the prices are firmly in 5-star-hotel-restaurant territory. Dim Sum here ranges from $3.80 to $5.50, which is pretty much the same as Royal China in Raffles Hotel and Yan Ting at the St Regis.

Tim Ho Wan Bedok Mall Har Gao and Deep Fried Stuffed Beancurd Skin
Har Gao (steamed prawn dumpling) and Deep Fried Stuffed Beancurd Skin

Tim Ho Wan Bedok Mall Salad Prawn Dumpling
Salad Prawn Dumpling

We thought that the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork was a clear winner. The easiest way to describe it is a Polo Bun with a Char Siu filling. The crunchy, sweet top goes surprisingly well with the juicy Char Siu filing, and is definitely a must-order when you're here. The Steamed Egg Cake, Carrot Cake and Deep Fried Stuffed Beancurd Skin were also very good - large, generous sized, delicious portions.

Tim Ho Wan Bedok Mall Siew Mai
Siew Mai (pork dumplings)

Tim Ho Wan Bedok Mall Chili Crab Wu Kok
Chili Crab Wu Kok (yam dumpling)

Most of the other items, however, were pretty par for the course and we didn't think they were any better (or worse) than the other similarly priced Dim Sum restaurants in town.

Tim Ho Wan Bedok Mall Steamed Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake

In fact, we even thought that the Chee Cheong Fun was mediocre; a little on the dry and tough side - and the addition of pig's liver wasn't anything special, and the Chili Crab Wu Kok (yam dumpling) was poorly thought out and even more poorly executed.

Tim Ho Wan Bedok Mall Osmanthus Jelly
Osmanthus Jelly

So, at $25-$30 per person and a 20-30 minute queue, is it worth it? Personally, we feel that at the same price point, it makes more sense to continue going to Yan Ting, Royal China, or any of the other top Dim Sum places in Singapore as there's no queue and you get a way higher level of comfort and service. Exception being, of course, if you've got a hankering for those heavenly BBQ Pork Buns, or if you stay fairly close to any of the three outlets.

The restaurant uses a queue'ing system, with a strict 'all guests must arrive before being seated' policy. No reservations. Non halal.

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