Tim Ho Wan 添好運點心專門店 (Hong Kong)

How different could a har gow be? I wondered to myself after hearing about Tim Ho Wan, a dim sum specialist restaurant in Hong Kong, which has long held on to its one Michelin star. After all, in Toronto, most shrimp dumplings are similar, the wrapper sometimes stickier, but otherwise most are filled with crunchy shrimp that have little taste. They’ve become larger throughout my lifetime, some of them reaching golf ball status, but the bland crunchy shrimp has remained constant.

Therefore, to draw comparisons, we stuck with the basics at Tim Ho Wan; I wanted to see what these “specialists” could do! Getting back to the har gow ($28), they indeed differ - smaller in size, the steamed dumplings are delicate so you can taste the shrimp’s sweetness (these are also tinier) with the seafood not packed together. The wrapper is soft, but not gummy, and has an elasticity to its consistency allowing them to be easily picked up. So, I stand corrected, har gows can be different.

Their steamed pork dumpling with shrimp ($28) or sui mai follows a similar recipe for success: big chunks of pork (as opposed to being pulverized) and shrimp combined loosely so there’s a juicy succulence to the dumpling. Oh, how I want more. 

The wrapper for the vermicelli roll stuffed with BBQ pork ($25) is impossibly thin, yet withstands the large pieces of BBQ pork stuffed in it. Personally, I like the bigger pieces of meat and full springs of cilantro placed throughout - you can taste the ingredients.

Tim Ho Wan’s glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf is the old-school format arriving as one gigantic package: a thick layer of chewy sticky rice stuffed with chicken, Chinese sausage, and mushrooms. The longer cooking time helps the lotus leaf essence seep into the rice, but having this dish again makes me realize I prefer the new miniature versions. The rice is softer and overall the dish more flavourful because of the gravy minced meat mixture used. Of course, the traditional way of making the dish requires experience (as you need to ensure everything is cooked throughout) and there is more filling, but you end up with one or two pieces of protein and big hunks of rice. 

Forgetting we already ordered the glutinous rice, the steamed rice with spare rib and chicken feet ($27) was too much; sadly, the rice was wasted. Frankly, unless you’re with a large table, this is a forgettable dish, the spare ribs and chicken foot both fairly average.

A dish that graced every table was their signature baked bun with BBQ pork ($21). Fresh from the oven, they are piping hot and the thin bun containing a large piece of BBQ pork. There’s a sweetness from the sauce and pineapple crust you’d expect, but it’s well balanced with the meat’s savouriness. For those who like it sweeter, allow the bun to cool down and the flavours intensify.  

The pan-fried pork and chives dumplings were also delicious, the meat cut into pieces (rather than minced) with enough vegetables to create a lightness to the dim sum. It’s wonton wrapper was so thin that it’s barely there, merely forming a fantastic crispy crust over everything.  

With only four desserts to choose from, we decided against the signature tonic medlar & petal cake, instead going for the tried and true deep-fried sesame dumpling ($18). At Tim Ho Wan, aside from the red bean paste they also add a piece of banana, which when heated turns into a creamy consistency. 

In the end, what makes Tim Ho Wan so good? From my experience: thin wrappers, ingredients left in chunks, and well-balanced flavours. If you don’t want to wait, head their as soon as it opens on a weekday, you’ll walk right in and find a seat at a number of tables. It’s a quick meal with dim sum flying out of the kitchen, which runs like a tasty, dumpling-making, well-oiled machine.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: North Point, Hong Kong
 Address: 2 Wharf Rd (Seaview Building, GF)

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!