I could live on steamed Chinese shrimp dumplings (hakao) for the rest of my life. That addiction brought me to Chef Mak Kwai Pui’s (麥桂培) Tim Ho Wan in 2010 during a visit to Hong Kong. That’s when our long distance love affair started. That first visit was also the start of another addiction – their BBQ Pork Buns.
Trivia: Tim Ho Wan literally means “to add good luck” or “more good luck” (thanks, Rob and Diane!) in Cantonese.
I can’t begin to tell anyone how much I love those two dishes and at the risk of being deemed basic, I order those two every single time I’m inside a Tim Ho Wan. In Hong Kong, in Manila when it opened last May (I was writing an article about it and was lucky enough to be one of the first people to dine there during opening day), Singapore, and now in Kuala Lumpur. True, I’ve tried the egg cake, the Vermicelli rolls, and the rest of it during that media visit in Manila but I guess I’m just in too deep with those two.
While a lot of neg-heads would often go like: “It’s overrated” and “The branches in other countries will never be at par with the one in Hong Kong”, I myself am just happy to have my hakao and pork bun fix – especially here in KL where not a lot of restaurants serve pork. I’m a Filipina and pork, is part of our basic food groups back home so halal food is usually okay and healthier but I do miss some good old pork in my food. Oh, and did I mention I miss chicharron (fried pork rinds) a lot too?
And come to think of it, there are lots of Chinese restaurants and hawker stalls here in KL and even in Singapore but not everyone and not a lot of them serve hakao! It drives me into bitch fits, sometimes when my craving is just too much. I went to Ying Ker Lou, a Chinese restaurant in Pavilion where they serve different kinds of dim sum, hakao included. Went in with a smile on my face, went out disappointed. The shrimps were obviously frozen so they didn’t taste the least bit fresh and were a bit gummy.
So I made it to a point to go to the Tim Ho Wan opening yesterday, November 28, in MidValley just to makeup for that bad experience. Expecting a long line, I wore comfy sandals. But I was surprised to see that the line was manageable.
When going to Tim Ho Wan, one should expect that they wouldn’t be seated right away. It’s like that in almost all their branches. The cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant (I think it’s a tad cheaper than Din Tai Fung) is of course, very popular everywhere it goes. Even those who don’t know of the restaurant before it came to their shores are drawn in because of the hype that comes with it and the intriguing line.
In KL though, the line is manageable since it’s a non-halal restaurant, a huge percentage of the population here are not part of their target audience. But still, the restaurant will be full. Even if it’s slightly bigger (with an upper floor for dining opening soon) than its sisters abroad. I waited in line for about 10 minutes max which isn’t so bad.
Tip: Smaller groups, solo diners in fact, get seated faster.