Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tim Ho Wan Malaysia @ Mid Valley

One of Kuala Lumpur's most breathlessly anticipated new restaurants this month is ready to launch: Hong Kong's Tim Ho Wan brings its famed 'Michelin-star dim sum' to its first Malaysian branch in Mid Valley's Boulevard beginning Friday, November 28. 

 
Thanks to the Tim Ho Wan team for this preview of the outlet, which replaces Italian eatery Blu Med on the boulevard. This foray into Malaysia is part of the brand's exuberant expansion since last year, with offshoots spreading across Singapore, Hanoi, Manila & Taipei; outposts in Sydney & Melbourne will unfurl next year.


 
Much of HK dim sum maestro Mak Kwai Pui's Mongkok-origin menu is offered here - the highly deified 'Big Four Heavenly Kings' repertoire includes princely portions of the signature baked buns with a mildly crisp exterior, its insides concealing sweet-savoury BBQ pork. RM10.80 for three pieces; thousands will likely be sold each week in KL. It's a satisfactory snack.


 Pan-fried carrot cake, a relatively low-grease rendition, textured with morsels of pork (RM9.80 for three pieces). Tim Ho Wan's main challenge might be managing expectations; there will be plenty of people who'll insist on telling you, "not as nice as the ones I had in Hong Kong," or others who'll complain it's overrated. They're not necessarily wrong, but they are wrong-spirited.


The two other 'Heavenly Kings' - considered a primer to Tim Ho Wan - comprise smooth vermicelli rolls stuffed with pork liver (RM10.80 for three pieces) & autumn-hued steamed egg cakes (RM7.80) that everyone calls fluffy for a reason - that's what they are; plus, they feature pleasurably natural-tasting nuances of eggy flavour.


But this is our favourite item at Tim Ho Wan - this is what we loved the most, the gem of the menu: Congee that's been blended with salted egg yolk, so each creamy spoonful is rich & tastes drop-dead fantastic, tinged with bits of salted egg, century egg & pork (RM9.80). This is what we'd line up for.


 
If a dim sum meal is meant to be all about comfort food with flavours that transport us back to our happiest around-the-table memories with family & friends, then the rice with fried egg & tender beef might do the trick (RM10.80). Uncomplicated virtue.


 
 
The stand-outs from the steamed selection are probably the two items that are listed last: Flavoursome Teochew-style dumplings & spinach dumplings with shrimp. The stand-outs overall at this restaurant might be its staff members, who work with a cordial grace & calm efficiency despite the crowd's demands, serving everything swiftly & clearing plates promptly.


 

 
Fussy palates will voice scant joy over the siu mai (RM10.80 for four), har kao (RM11.80 for four), beef balls with bean curd skin (RM7.80 for three) & bean curd skin rolls with pork & shrimp (RM8.80), but fussy isn't equivalent to discerning. While these recipes might not pack the strongest punch, they're consistent with the well-thought-out flavour profiles of the food here.


 
 
Fried fare: Spring rolls with egg white & wasabi prawn dumplings. Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong has long milked its renown for being 'the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant,' noted for long lines of patient patrons waiting outside its outlets; expect a similar situation in KL well into 2015.


 
Lotus leaf glutinous rice (RM12.80). Dim sum here is reputedly made to order - not pre-steamed & reheated. And there were no tell-tale symptoms of thirst after we enjoyed this lunch.


 
Tim Ho Wan's dessert list is short &, well, sweet: Choose chilled osmanthus cakes (RM6.80 for three) or mango sago pomelo (RM6.90); either should prove a prudent option. All in all, we're happy Tim Ho Wan has opened in KL; it might be more of a curiosity-satisfying destination for most customers right now, but we hope it'll eventually settle into becoming a reliable one too.


 
 
Tim Ho Wan Kuala Lumpur
27G, The Boulevard, Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur. Outlet opens at 11am daily, queue could begin well before then.

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44 comments:

  1. Very interesting place, Sean! It has been a while since I have seen stools used as chairs in a restaurant. It kind of reminds me of the 50's diners. :)

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    1. Linda: that's a cool perspective you've offered ... we see stools as chairs in eateries a lot in this city, but it's interesting to know that folks in other countries might not :)

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  2. Replies
    1. Happy walker: yep, good dim sum, definitely :)

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  3. Finally they open in Malaysia, hope the queue won't be too long.

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    1. CK: yikes, i think the queue will be very long, especially for lunchtime everyday :)

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  4. Nice! It's already open in Malaysia! :)

    I've been to the original Hong Kong outlet where we had to wait ages (it's now closed, that branch at least). They had One Michelin Star at the time and I loved the pork buns.

    I loved the osmanthus jelly too as well as the chee cheong fun with pork liver.

    I'll definitely drop by and see if the taste is the same as the Hong Kong outlet (although I originally went in 2012 so I'm not sure if I'll remember clearly). It'll still be fun to revisit the awesome dim sum dishes though.

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    1. Huai Bin: i hope you'll enjoy the kl tim ho wan experience too! yeah, i think it'd be tricky to really compare the kl and hk experience ... part of the fun of eating at hk's tim ho wan would be tied to fun of being a tourist there :)

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    2. Yeah, I agree, but I do miss the pork buns so I'll love it regardless! :)

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    3. Huai Bin: yeah, hopefully them pork buns will live up to your memory of 'em! :)

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  5. Finally they aldy opened in M'sia. Dim sum dim sum is one of my favourite.
    Gonna try it soon :D

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    1. Vivian: ya, i don't manage to have dim sum as often as i'd like, so it was very good to have it here. hope you enjoy tim ho wan :)

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  6. wow they are here! you are so fast to check them out!

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    1. Ken: it's gonna take a lot of patience to queue here for lunch in the weeks to come :)

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  7. Thanks for the peek inside Sean. The glutinous rice looks delicious.

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    1. The Yum List: i've loved glutinous rice in dim sum restaurants since i was a kid :)

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  8. Love dim sum but not crowds! Hopefully, the hype dies down fast so I can get to try it out.

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    1. Footfringe: i suspect by the time the hype eases, you won't be a permanent resident in kl any more :)

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  9. Oohh are you saying it's also coming to Sydney?? Yay can't wait!!! The dim sum looks so good!

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    1. Iamthewitch: yeah, they say sydney is in the cards for tim ho wan! glad you like the look of the dim sum here! yeah, very nicely done :)

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  10. Hello Sean! I was going to come over to say HI after we finished our meal, but when I turned around, you've already left. We were just seated close to the other bloggers, at our table it was actually just 3 of us (baby D, my mum and I) ;) Nevertheless, good to see you!

    Yea I guess with a Michelin-star, people have high expectations of the dim sum here. I've never tried the ones in HK, but I had a good experience here yesterday and would certainly return again with my family.

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    1. Baby Sumo: yup, hopefully if our paths cross again at a review like this, we'll be lucky enough to sit nearer to each other, heh :) yeah, i'd love to return too for some of the dishes, but to be frank, i don't think i'd want to queue, so it might be many more months before i'm back here :)

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  11. I really look forward to trying it in Malaysia. Enjoyed the one in HK so much that we went back for second round in a 4 day 3 night trip. But yeah, gotta be patient and let the crowd go off a bit first. The prices look ok, not too far off from the HK prices too

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    1. Yun Qi: yeah, i think most customers might say the prices are pretty fair here ... not too outrageous. but so far, based on first-official-day feedback, customers are making unflattering comparisons between the malaysian branch and the hong kong originals...

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    2. A friend went on Saturday for early dinner. He too, felt that the food and service is below par. But I guess no surprise there, the service team would be so exhausted with the long queue from early in the morning

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    3. Yun Qi: yikes ... a buddy of mine went on sunday morning, and he felt it was comparable to his hong kong tim ho wan meal. so he enjoyed it. it does look like there are a lot of differing opinions so far :)

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  12. Would like to try their signature baked buns, pork liver vermicelli rolls, steamed egg cakes, salted egg yolk, rice with fried egg & beef, Teochew-style dumplings, spinach shrimp dumplings and lotus leaf glutinous rice...so as to draw my own conclusions about Tim Ho Wan...hehe =)

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    1. Ulric: heh, yeah, maybe if you have a day off during a weekday, you could try heading here at, say, 3pm, when the queues might be slightly shorter compared to the 12pm queues :) anyways, i like your choice of items to try :D

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    2. Haha...will do since I have leave to clear by year-end...lolz! =)

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    3. Ulric: ooo, heheh, maybe we can go cari makan somewhere during the second half of December :)

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  13. I've tried their cha xiu bao before, very nice! Would love to try their guai fa gou, but definitely go after the peak hours, I can imagine the long q in front of the shop already ><

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    1. Audrey: ya, i think the queue this weekend especially will be insane! good luck to the tim ho wan service crew, phew :)

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  14. They're finally here! Can't wait to try...but will have to be patient for a (long) while until the queue subsides ;) Am loving the looks of the baked bun, vermicelli roll, congee, those Teochew and spinach dumplings and that lotus leaf glutinous rice...I want just about everything!! :D

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    1. Contact.ewew: ya, at this rate, i'm not sure whether the queue will ease this year ... maybe it'll be better by chinese new year, heh :) haha, ya, i couldn't narrow down the choices too, so we tried to order as much as possible ... and even then, we missed a few :)

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  15. oh man.. i can't wait to come over! :D

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    1. Vincent: crossing my fingers that you'll enjoy your visit! :)

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  16. If I've gone I would have met u!
    Well, tis calls for a private lunch soon then :P

    Thks for the heads up on Tim Ho Wan, was too busy to go & you have answered my dilemma on whether to try or otherwise :)

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    1. Rebecca: heheh, my friend and I tried to take the table at the farthest corner away to hide from everyone :) but yes, private lunch sounds good... Second half of December or anytime in January :)

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  17. Will not q for this for the moment as my Sam doesn't have such patient =.="
    Also quite regretted didn't try THW on my last HK trip ~>_<~

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    1. Choi Yen: ya, hopefully maybe in a few months, the queue won't be too long. a friend of mine queued on sunday, and it actually only took an hour, so it's not too bad :)

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  18. Lousy dim sum. Not worth eating at tim ho wan. Frozen dim sum taste nicer

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  19. I can't agree more. Music was ridiculously loud. Food was just average. In fact there are plenty more better dim sum in KL. Never again

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  20. Over hyped. Not worth the long wait. Everything so so. They go for volume instead of taste, quality or authenticity. Baked bun taste differently from what I had in Kowloon. Vermicelli rice is not the HK dim sum variety but the thick local chu cheong fun wrap because of time saving. Others have much better beef balls. The glutinous rice was rather bland. With a try at this new outlet/outpost, "Tim Ho Wan" and associated Michelin star can go down the drain.

    There are only three reasons for anyone to say the dim sum here is good, Either he/she has received a social media marketing fee, he/she has a less than discerning taste sense or his/her standard is rather low.

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