The Michelin guide started as a general guide for motorists. The Michelin brothers (who owned the tire company), decided to publish a guide that included maps, instructions for changing tires…and where to eat if you were going on a road trip. Today, this humble guide started by two men who owned a tire company has become a force unto itself, elevating restaurants to 6-month-waiting-list levels, or crushing the dreams of a chef slaving away at his craft.
All within those three little stars next to the restaurant’s name.
Well Tim Ho Wan – famous for being the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant – has expanded beyond its original Hong Kong venue, to the busy streets of…Chatswood.
Hundreds of excited foodies flock to Tim Ho Wan in its opening week…and then another week, and another. The queue never seemed to end. But luckily, I’m Singaporean, so I’m not afraid of a queue!
Simon and I went for a weekday brunch to minimise waiting time – surely other people have day jobs right? – and we were seated in 5 minutes. Win! We ordered a mixture of classic dim sum – rice noodle rolls and prawn dumplings, to name a couple – and the signature/new dishes – barbecued pork buns and fish maw with prawn paste. The classic were, well, a disappointment. The rice noodle rolls were brittle, and sorely lacking the chewy pull that I look forward to, and the prawn dumplings and pork rib with black bean sauce were mediocre.
The signature dishes, on the other hand, were much better executed, perhaps because there isn’t much competition out there. The barbecued pork buns with its buttery shell of “crumble” over the top of sweet, stuffed milk buns were truly special, and kept me going back for more. And the fish maw – fish stomach fried to a sponge like texture and then stuffed with fresh prawn paste and steamed – was quite the representation of good cantonese cooking.
For such a short menu, it’s a shame that there were more mediocre dishes than good ones. The glutinous rice – another in a long list of classic dim sum menu items – was expertly executed, but on the whole, the experience wasn’t enough to even keep us for dessert. Not worth the hype, nor the trip, unfortunately. Maybe a takeaway order of the barbecue pork buns?