Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tim Ho Wan @ Plaza Singapura

This visit to Tim Ho Wan's first store in Singapore proved a point:
One should always approach with an open mind and a hungry tummy.

Although the 1 Michelin Star and its "Four Heavenly Kings" called at Singapore's shores in April this year, it wasn't a die-die-must-queue for me; I have booked a trip to Hong Kong this year and I have all intent to drop by what is dubbed "the cheapest 1 Michelin Star restaurant" at the Tim Ho Wan in Mong Kok. But then again, I was running out of places to bring my parents for their Sunday brunch. So Tim Ho Wan it was last Sunday.

1.5 hours - the time the restaurant took to move our table of 5 into the restaurant. Perhaps we were too ambitious to think that we could have BRUNCH by joining the 50-strong queue at 11am. For a start, you should totally skip Tim Ho Wan if you're ravenous, because no one in the queue is going to tolerate your hungry caveman behaviour.

And on with the anticipated "Heavenly Kings".

BBQ Pork Buns, S$4.5 for 3
Definitely one of the items that keeps the queue long and winding. The lightly browned crown of the bun is crispy and flaky, while the inside is a flowy filling of BBQ honeyed pork and sweet BBQ sauce. Pretty much a lovely marriage between the proverbial steam char siew bun and the bolo bun.

Vermicelli Roll with Pig's Liver (S$5.5), Pan-fried Turnip Cake (background) (S$4.5)
If you're a fan of pig's innards, the Vermicelli Roll with Pig's Liver will sound enticing to you. To prevent the vermicelli rolls from becoming too salty, the waitress douses your vermicelli rolls with the savoury sauce at your table. While I loved the silky smooth texture of the rolls, the pig's liver had a strong smell that didn't resonate too well with my taste buds. For the less gung ho taste buds, go for familiar fillings like BBQ pork or shrimp. However, the turnip cake wasn't spectacular. Too oily and salty, and didn't hold when I tried to use my chopsticks on them. I don't remember turnip cake being this flimsy.

Steamed Egg Cake (S$3.8)
I regretted ordering only 2 servings of this - it's so over-the-top, too-good-to-be-true good! While it looks exactly like my favourite steamed brown sugar cake, it's softer and fluffier that its cousin which melts in your mouth and leaves a slight aftertaste of eggs and sugar. Beats the BBQ pork buns hands-down, IMO.

And if you're done with the Heavenly Kings and don't want to make this a wasted trip, go for these:

Deep-fried Beancurd Skin Roll (S$4.2 for 3)
 The chunks of fresh, succulent prawns wrapped in a golden-brown beancurd skin were mind-blowing. Went extremely well with the sweet chili sauce provided at every table.

Steamed prawn dumplings (S$5.5 for 4)
Another item packed with juicy chunks of prawns. The dumpling skin is not too thick and doesn't stick to your teeth.

Steamed Glutinous Rice (S$5)
 My dad is a sucker for steamed sticky glutinous rice in lotus leaf, and uses it as his informal yardstick for dim sum places. Using the lotus leaf lends a unique fragrance to the rice and the filling of chicken and chestnut within.

Steamed Mushroom and Spinach Dumpling (S$3.8 for 3)
Ever since Ding Tai Fung phased out its steamed vegetarian dumplings, I've yet to find anywhere else that served full-veg dumplings. Tim Ho Wan must have heard my wish, for their version seems to be on par with Ding Tai Fung's. A thin crystal dumpling skin packs full a wholesome filling of chopped mushrooms and spinach - a vegetarian's dream come true.

Osmanthus Cake (S$3.5 for 3)
I like how they would always wait for you to request for your osmanthus cake to be served at the time that you prefer (if you placed an order), so that you won't have to eat the BBQ pork buns and the osmanthus cake at the same time. The clear cake is served chilled, and the best way to eat it is the caveman way (what irony) - devouring the whole piece in one mouthful. Perfect end to a good meal.

My advice to those who have yet to pop by - wait. For those in the East, word has it that Tim Ho Wan will be opening one branch in Bedok, bringing its total number of outlets here to 3 (currently it's just Plaza Singapura and Toa Payoh). Hopefully, the crowd will be spread evenly among the 3 (and more to come) branches, and the waiting time will be cut down. In the meanwhile, you'll just have to make do with the restless queue and the boisterous waitresses.

Eat where:
Tim Ho Wan
#01-29A Plaza Singapura
68 Orchard Road
(The restaurant does not accept reservations.)
Opening Hours: 10am - 10pm (weekdays), 9am - 10pm (PH and weekends)

Our family of 5 rang up a total bill of S$105.22, including 7% GST and 10% service charge.

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