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.
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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