Sherman's Food Adventures: Tim Ho Wan (North Point)

Tim Ho Wan (North Point)

Alright, we were not scheduled to make a visit to any location of Tim Ho Wan despite earning a Michelin star.  Besides, it seems like they throw that designation around pretty carelessly in Hong Kong.  According to many, the place does indeed serve up decent Dim Sum for a reasonable price, but it is not really a destination restaurant since there are so many other great places to go in Hong Kong.  The real reason we made a visit to the North Point location was due to the fact it was convenient for our large group prior to heading out to Ocean Park.

We settled in and made a point of it to leave quickly, but that was easily arranged as that's how they operate anyways.  Food came out expeditiously as expected beginning with the Rice Noodle Rolls (Shrimp, Beef and BBQ Pork).  The rice noodle was medium-thickness and buttery in texture.  It still retained a slight pleasing elasticity.  All of the fillings were pretty good including the buttery shrimp that was decent in size and quantity.  I did find the seasoning a bit too aggressive though.  The beef was tender and had a nice rebound texture.  There was a modest amount of cilantro which didn't overwhelm.  Lastly, the BBQ pork was fairly lean and there was a good meat-to-noodle ratio.

Although they looked rather tiny, the Ha Gau (Shrimp Dumplings) were fairly pleasing.  Featuring a thin and chewy elastic dumpling wrapper, it encased a shrimp filing that was in big chunks.  There was a buttery and moist snap which was accented by enough sesame oil.  One thing I didn't like was the amount of seasoning as the dumpling was pretty salty.  I thought the Siu Mai were also over-seasoned where the saltiness needed to be tempered by hot sauce.  However, it was on point texturally with moist chunks of bouncy pork, shrimp and flavourful shiitake mushroom.  Other than the saltiness, the rest of the flavours were apparent and pleasing.

On the topic of salty, the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet) were the most affected by far.  One bite and the sting of salt rang through my taste buds (the salt-tasting buds that is).  In terms of texture, the outside was plump with a slight bite.  Underneath, the cartilage was on the crunchier side while the tendons were tender while not melted.  Once again, the saltiness continued with the Steamed Pork Spareribs as that was the only seasoning (other than the garlic) that we could taste.  There was an appealing rebound texture to the tender meat where most of the pieces did not include cartilage or fat.

Onto some carbs, we got the Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice) which was presented ol' skool style as one large portion rather than the 3 minis we see these days.  Hence, the sticky rice was more moist and the flavours seemed to be even more in balance.  There was almost a even ratio between tender ground pork, shiitake, sausage and chicken with the rice.  This was probably my favourite dish of the meal.  We also got the Steamed Chicken Rice and it was also decent.  The rice was nutty and dry (a good thing) with a fair amount of tender dark meat chicken on top.  Again, it was aggressively seasoned, but in this case, it was fine as the rice needed seasoning.

Another solid dish was the Beef Meatballs as they had nearly the perfect texture where there were meaty portions blended and bonded by bouncy beef mousse.  Therefore, the meatballs were buttery and appealingly chewy at the same time.  Furthermore, the amount of cilantro was just right and for once, the seasoning seemed to be just enough.  We didn't get any Worcestershire sauce though.  As much as I enjoyed the Deep Fried Dumplings, they were just too oil-logged on the bottom.  Hence, only half of the dumpling was crispy.  Inside, there was just not enough filling to make much of an impact.

Something that was just plain weird was the Spring Rolls with fish and mayo.  The result was a slimy mess inside the greasy, yet crunchy exterior wrapping.  The combination of the savoury fish and sweet mayo made for an interesting mix of flavours.  We felt this didn't work.  For dessert (in a way), we had their signature Baked BBQ Pork Buns with a sweet crispy topping.  The buns were fairly soft and a bit yeasty while the topping made the entire thing more of a dessert.  Inside, the lean pork was also bathed in a sweet glaze that only had some savoury elements.  These were the best dish in my opinion.  Otherwise, everything else was okay but far too salty.  If you are visiting Hong Kong and have limited time, Tim Ho Wan could be a destination, but there are many other choices.

The Good:
- Reasonably-priced
- Freshly-made dim sum
- Those BBQ Pork Buns...

The Bad:
- Hit and miss
- It is a rushed experience
- It's got a Michelin Star?

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