MANILA, PHILIPPINES - After many failed attempts to eat at Tim Ho Wan, I was finally able to try the place out last week! As usual, even though 6 weeks had already passed, a long line of would-be diners can still be seen outside the establishment. I was on the verge of getting frustrated yet again upon seeing the long line but braved through it this time since I was itching already to try their food out and since I was to eat with my family. Falling in line does not seem to be much of a chore when you are with someone, you know! You get lost in your conversations that you totally forget about your surroundings and that is good because it takes your mind off the process of waiting, like it did with us! Also, the waiters give each person a menu upon falling in line so that they would be able to decide beforehand what to order so as to save time later on!
To give you a little background, especially to those who does not know what the fuss is all about, Tim Ho Wan started as a hole-in-the-wall eatery in Hong Kong. Despite that fact, its dim sum had won accolades and praises from a lot of food critics and food enthusiasts around the world. The praises did not come from a hollow trunk as it became the first restaurant of its nature that gained entry in the Michelin guide which makes it the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. 1 Michelin star but still a Michelin star.
Other than the company, the waiting was made bearable by the neon green stools lined up outside for those who are willing to wait for 30 minutes or more. We only waited for 40 minutes, which was pretty decent given that it would normally take you 1.5 hour to get a seat at Tim Ho Wan in Plaza Singapura and never if you were to dine then in their Mong Kok branch in Hong Kong way back when.
As we took our seats, we were immediately given a checklist by our server. The checklist was a no-brainer and easy to navigate through as the items were listed in the same order as how they appeared in the menu. I was trying hard then to restrain myself from ordering a serving each of all the dishes but because my logic prevailed, I was able to stop myself from doing so. Nonetheless, that was how good and appetizing all the dishes looked! After we populated the checklist, we handed over the paper to our waiter and listened intently as he recited again our orders. After confirming our orders, he left and all we did was anticipate!
The wait was surprisingly short. Bam, bam, bam! The orders came in continuously with the pork buns leading the pack! This is the dish that made Tim Ho Wan famous. With its crumbly and fluffy exterior complementing the barbecued pork with oozing sauce inside, I now understand why people love it to bits! We had 3 orders of the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (Php 145 for 3 pcs) because we thought that it would not be enough for us. This fear most likely stemmed out from my mom's comment that the buns are rather small and we might not get filled by it. When our orders arrived, I was surprised to see that they were quite a handful BUT it was your first time to eat one, it is rather necessary that you order a whole serving for yourself! If you are curious to know if it tasted like the one in any of the other international branches, my mom said YES! A resounding yes if you may ask! Nonetheless, the pork buns only make up a fourth of the Big 4 Heavenly Kings. The remaining three are the Steamed Egg Cake, Vermicelli Roll with Pig's Liver and Pan Fried Carrot Cake. So we still had a long way to go!
The Vermicelli Roll with Pig's Liver (Php 150) is an interesting dish in its own right. The soft, velvety texture of the roll with its taste bordering to, well, none, complemented the chewy and flavorful liver inside it! However, I think that the liver still needed an extra kick and staying power to enliven the dish some more.
One of the Big 4, the Steamed Egg Cake (Php 85), is something that even the kids will definitely enjoy. Why? Because it is light and spongy and everything nice. Its sweetness may be subdued due to its light caramelized nature but that's the kind of sweetness that will leave you wanting more!
I do not have any intention to order this dish when we were still in line but seeing the mystery food covered in Lotus leaf (Machang) made me wonder about the surprise awaiting inside. The Glutinous Rice with Lotus Leaf (Php 190) was filled with some saucy meat I could not entirely decipher, probably because I was not able to catch any defining taste when I ate it. Nonetheless, if you can't go by a meal without eating rice, this variant would be your best bet among the rest.
The Prawn Dumpling (Php 160) and the Spinach Dumpling with Shrimp (Php 120) are delicious and compact you will surely get filled with just a few bites!
I already forgot that time when I fell in love with beancurds, but even so, my love for it is still with me, growing and flourishing by the day. The Beancurd Skin Roll with Pork & Shrimp (Php 120) is no exception! I assure you that the meatiness of the dish and the sauce that came with it does not disappoint even just one bit.
This Spring Roll with Egg White (Php 150) was a breath of fresh air! Yes, I may have always had fried egg white but this is the first time that I had one wrapped in a spring roll.
Of course the Pork Rib with Black Bean Sauce (Php 120) is always a must-order in a dimsum restaurant as it is a dish that has already been tried and tested!
As for the desserts, the Mango Pomelo Sago (Php 90) is a sure winner! Sweet and sour has always been a perfect match! Although the sweetness overpowered the sourness to the point that I was already looking for that unique Pomelo taste, this dish is still something to look forward to especially by those who happened to have a degree of fondness towards sweet delights!
Food: The food were all amazing as they all had a distinctive taste to offer! I have no qualms at all about the quality of the food and the amount of serving as each piece was so compact that every bite filled us up and satisfied us instantaneously.
Ambiance: Well, if you happen to be that kind of individual who favors a quiet place to have a nice and quiet chit-chat with your loved ones and friends, I tell you now that you will not be getting it here, honey. In terms of serenity, the ambiance leaves a lot to be desired. But! If you are familiar on how busy a Chinese Dimsum restaurant can get and you had already leveraged your expectations, then the busy ambiance of the place would not be an issue for you!
Service: The service is promising! Though the restaurant was jampacked, the waitress assigned to us was still able to accommodate us without feeling the need to hurry to serve the other diners. I think they already had a great system in place and the number of staff is enough for the crowd that is why the servers were still able to attend to each table with calmness and a smile.
Tabs: Php 400 each for a group of 4 who ordered 9 dishes + 3 servings of Pork Buns. Tee-hee!
TIM HO WAN
Address: UG/F SM Megamall, Fashion Hall, Julia Vargas Ave cor EDSA, Wack Wack, Mandaluyong City
- Mall of Asia