November 21, 2009

Getting lucky on the Dark Side

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It's not often that I cross over to the Dark Side for food, but I eagerly took the MTR across the harbor to have an early dim sum session with friends at Tim Ho Wan (添好運), the popular mass market shop run by the ex-dim sum chef of Four Season's Lung King Heen (龍景軒).  A few of us had been wanting to give this place a try, and despite what we thought was an early start, we arrived to find a short line outside the restaurant about an hour into the business day.

After getting seated into slightly cramped quarters, the 6 of us ordered up a storm.  Once the dishes started to arrive, the gang sprang into action and gobbled everything up.

Pan-fried turnip cake with preserved meats (臘味蘿蔔糕) - this was pretty good. Lighter than your normal mass market version with a decent amount of turnip strips (and not just powder).

Steamed rice flour rolls with honey-glazed char siu (蜜味叉燒腸) - the char siu was indeed nice and sweet, and the rice flour roll was thin and soft.

Steamed rice flour rolls with pig's liver (黃沙豬潤腸) - same as above but with diced pig's liver as the filling.  The liver was done very nicely - still tender and succulent.

Baked char siu buns (酥皮焗叉燒包) - these were really excellent.  The outer crust is a little crunchy and flaky, while the filling was very sweet and runny with a good amount of char siu (and not just fat).  One of the better baked char siu buns in town.

Steamed dumplings with shrimp and chives (鮮蝦韭菜餃) - stuffed full of fresh shrimp and fragrant chives and pretty tasty.  Unfortunately the skin - as was the case with all the steamed dumplings here today - did not hold the filling together well.  The chef had made the skin very thin, which normally would have been great, except that these dumplings have been steamed for too long until the skin got mushy.  Now it became very easy to poke holes in the skin when you try to pick the dumplings up with chopsticks.  It's too bad, but with the restaurant being so busy, I guess it's impossible to steam them to order...

Steamed dumplings with shrimp / har gao (晶瑩鮮蝦餃) - very nice and yummy filling.  Shame about the can see one of the dumplings already has a hole in it.

Steamed dumplings with kimchi and beef (泡菜牛肉餃) - pretty nice with the spicy kimchi.  I always find kimchi snacks to be very interesting.

Steamed Chiuchow dumpling (潮洲蒸粉果) - I've always liked Chiuchow dumplings for their interesting fillings, and this one was delicious.

Steamed dumpling with shrimp and pork / siu mai (鮮蝦燒賣皇) - classic and straightforward.

Steamed beef meatballs with preserved orange rind (陳皮牛肉球) - the subtle taste of the preserved orange rind (陳皮) neutralized any potential unwelcomed flavors from the beef.  The meatball itself is very tender as one would expect.

Steamed glutinous rice with chicken (古法糯米雞) - nicely wrapped in a big lotus leaf which imparted the rice with its fragrance.

Steamed pork spare ribs with black beans (豉汁蒸排骨) - pretty standard stuff.

Steamed chicken feet with black beans (豉汁蒸鳳爪) - as I remarked to my friends: "This is seriously good!"  This was better than your average chicken feet, because it hasn't been over-steamed.  The skin is still a bit chewy from being fried, and all the flavors were there.  Good stuff.

Finally we get to the dessert, which was steamed Malay sponge cake (香滑馬拉糕). The color here was a beautiful golden brown, but unfortunately the taste was a bit off for me.  What followed the initial sweetness was the obvious taste of baking soda, and this ruined an otherwise lovely dessert.

Overall it was a pretty satisfying meal, as there were definitely some hits today.  I'm not gonna complain too much, though, given that this place is really aimed at the mass market and the prices are really cheap.  It's one of those things on my check list, and I'm glad I had a chance to tick it off.  But would I regularly trek all the way here for weekend dim sum?  Probably not.

A few of us strolled around Shanghai Street and hit a bunch of stores selling restaurant /cooking supplies in search of a cotton candy machine.  Unfortunately all the models we saw were a little big to fit into our kitchens.  Oh well...

Apparently some of us got hungry again, so we stopped by Ha Ming Kee (夏銘記) for some fish balls.  We ordered bowls of Chiuchow four treasures (潮洲四寳) and wonton/dumpling (雲吞水餃) to share.  The Chiuchow fish ball was soft but not mushy, which was pretty good.  The cuttlefish ball was pretty chewy.  The wonton was surprisingly yummy and bursting with flavors.

Unbelievable as it may sound, this group (yours truly excepted) was still "peckish" so we went in search of some very good Vietnamese bánh mì - those yummy baguette sandwiches.  We trekked over to Tim Kee French Sandwiches (添記) on Man Yuen Street, in an old community a stone's throw from Elements Mall.  I decided that it would be detrimental to my health to eat any more, so I passed on having a bite.  My three companions decided to share a sandwich, and put on a performance for me by biting into the three sections of the sandwich simultaneously so I could vicariously feel (by audio) how  nice and crunchy the bread is.  Looks like I'll have to come back and try this someday...

I enjoyed the nice foodie outing to the Dark Side today.  Let's hope there's more to come.


Lambda said...

I read this post first thing in the morning and it makes me hungry. Totally irrelevant but now I want a bowl of congee and fried dough 油炸鬼 for breakfast. Trip down to Kowloon City!

Sher.eats said...

you left out the baking supplies detour!

Camemberu said...

Wow the photos look great though. I agree about paying slightly more to get quality dim sum in an air-con setting with no need to queue. But this still looks pretty good!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

I am glad to find a review on this. I was skeptical about the Michelin star hype - somehow felt that Michelin awarded the star for PR reasons.. possibly shouldn't be so cynical until I have tried it.


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