Tim Ho Wan was, until not too long ago, the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world. Since first opening in Hong Kong and attracting lines of people round the block waiting patiently for their famed dishes, it has since grown significantly into a chain of dumpling houses. And then in September 2018, Perth got their own Tim Ho Wan in the heart of the city at Raine Square.
While I love supporting local small businesses, all chains started somewhere after all. And I am a dumpling fiend: so this is right up my alley. So when the opening event took place, I was there with a couple girlfriends tackling the menu dish by dish with gusto.
From the fried side of things were the wasabi salad prawn dumplings ($7.80). I don’t usually order fried prawn dumplings when I go out for yum cha, but I have eaten them, and these were a nice change of pace. Chocked full of prawn, the wasabi offered a good kick that made eat bite zingy and distinct.
The shrimp cheese balls with almond flakes ($8.80) were an interesting dish – I’m not quite sure if I like them. I can commend them on trying something different with the use of cheese, but the flavour combo wasn’t quite to my preference.
The pan-fried turnip cake ($6.00) was my kinda dish, and definitely pulled on some nostalgia strings for me. I do so love radish cake as we call it at home, as my mum makes it all the time. This one was flavoursome and had shellfish inside to give it added texture and taste.
The baked bbq pork buns ($7.80) are Tim Ho Wan’s signature dish – and with good reason. These were what I was most looking forward to, and I’m happy to say they didn’t disappoint. The texture, the construction, the flavour… they were excellent. I can see why they pump out hundreds (thousands even) daily, they are a knockout.
The prawn dumplings ($8.30) were beautifully pleated, and tasted so good! They were generously filled, with two prawns in each tumbling out when we bit in. Juicy, succulent and properly steamed to perfection. Yes, they’re a simple dish, but they’re delicious.
The prawn and chive dumplings ($8.80) were even better – and a definite favourite for me. I liked that they used a different dumpling skin on these to the others, giving them even more of a point of difference.
Our final dumplings were the pork and shrimp siu mai ($7.80). These are normally a go to for me whenever I dine out on dim sum – and so I couldn’t look past them here. They didn’t really stand out in the pack though. While the filling was generous here too, I felt that they didn’t have any discerning qualities that set them apart from other siu mai elsewhere.
As if we weren’t already full enough, we decided to further pig out on a few more dishes. The vermicelli roll with shrimp ($7.80) ticked all the boxes – especially thanks to that sweet soy that accompanies it. Always a winner in my eyes.
The glutinous rice in lotus leaf ($8.80) was ridiculously filling, as is always the case with this kind of dish. Normally I can dine on this as a meal in itself, so this probably wasn’t the smartest thing to order as it pushed us over the edge!
But naturally me being me, I couldn’t not order the seafood congee ($8.80) while my companions went for the pork with century egg and salted egg congee ($6.80). I love, love, love congee and it’s pretty hard for me not to enjoy it. I would have liked for Tim Ho Wan to have chilli oil available (they just have chilli sauce) as this would have made the bowl even better in my opinion.
We finished things off with classic Hong Kong style egg tarts ($4.80). These were good, the pastry flaky as is a must with this kind of dish, and the egg mixture just sweet enough. A nice ending to our meal, though again we probably didn’t need to order this as we’d already dined on way more than we should have!
All in all, our Tim Ho Wan experience was enjoyable. I found that there were some real knock out dishes (the pork buns, prawn and chive dumplings and vermicelli roll), but if I’m wholly honest I did expect more dishes that would showcase why they’ve earned themselves a Michelin Star. However, as a dumpling and Chinese food venue, I did leave relatively satisfied! The price point is more expensive than other dumpling venues, even those that also make everything in house, but it is also on prime real estate.