Tim Ho Wan at Toa Payoh

I've never stepped into their main restaurant in Hong Kong. Neither have I patronized the outlet at Plaza Singapura.

So I was very happy to be invited to their second outlet at Toa Payoh Central before I left this sunny island. Chef Mak Kwai Pui has added SIX NEW ITEMS which are exclusively available only at this outlet but none was particularly newfangled. Take for instance the 鲍汁焖凤爪Steam Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce ($5). Just like another foodie friend Alexis, I don't take chicken feet but those who did, such as Derrick, commented that it was delicious.

One dish that I found interesting was the Ham Sui Gok 咸水角 or Deep Fried Dumpling with Salted Meat ($3.80). I've seen those with a thicker glutinous crust but the version here is thin and hollow. The more I chew, the more I appreciate the tinge of sweetness that trickles out from the fritter as it allows me to take a much desired sweet break from the savoury food. Not enough meat? Well, the amount works for me.

The 香煎萝卜糕 Pan Fried Carrot Cake ($4.50)  was mediocre and plain as it is, so don't bother looking out for any bits of chestnuts or dried shrimps. On the other hand, the 金银蛋瘦肉粥 Congee with Lean Pork and Century Egg ($4.20) surprised with some diced salted egg white (not salted egg yolk). I thought it was quite a clever and necessary move because the congee itself did not had much seasoning and hence these extremely salty bits completed the picture. No wonder its Chinese name contained gold (century egg?) and silver (salted egg white).

The Fried Noodle with BBQ pork and Soy Sauce 叉烧鼓油皇炒面 ($6.00) lacked the wok-hei aroma and was too greasy. The light brown gravy drenched on top of the 大排檔猪肠粉 Vermicelli Roll ($4.20) tasted more like peanut butter than sesame sauce to me. The downside of this filling-less roll is that the rice sheets tend to dry out after sitting out in the air-conditioned dining area.

There were 3 shrimp dishes that night. The best and yet the least sophisticated one was the 晶莹鲜虾饺 Prawn dumplings ($5.50) for the prawn was fresh and bouncy, wrapped tightly in a smooth, supple skin.

My instant reaction upon seeing the 鲜虾菠菜饺 Steamed Spinach Dumpling with Prawns ($3.80) was to dip them in vinegar, which I thought it was the right thing to do because it reminded me of Chives dumpling. The 青芥末明虾饺 Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling ($5) below was overly-cautious with the wasabi sauce. It needs more punch and I wish there was more sauce.

Of course, the most star-worthy dish was the 酥皮焗叉烧包 Baked Bun with BBQ Pork ($4.50 for a portion of 4). I can't tell how authentic this is but some said it is closer than the P.S. outlet version to the original bun in Hong Kong. Apparently, the recipe has been tweaked.
The crust was extremely thin and evenly wrapped around the bread, unlike typical HK Polo Bao that comes with a lumpy surface. And it was so fragile and flaky that it disintegrated as easily as sand castles on the beach. Both the char siew filling and bun was not too sweet and actions speak louder than words--I wolfed down 3 entire buns.

And I love the Steamed Egg Cake香滑马拉糕 $3.80, which resembled our Chinese huat kueh but this was way fluffier and not too sweet at all. The aroma of brown sugar that wafted into my face was so enticing that I happily cleared the entire block of sponge cake by myself (my partner was too full) plus some leftover from another table. This definitely marked another climax of that day after having the char siew bao.

杨枝甘露 Mango Pomelo Sago ($5) was decent but not being a fan of mango, I veered towards the 杞子桂花糕Tonic Medlar & Osmanthus Cake ($3.50) . It ain't some tonic medicine that gives you strength but just simply wolf berries entrapped in Osmanthus-flavored jelly. A healthy and refreshing way to end a heavy dim sum meal.

New items will be released every few months so that diners won't be bored of the menu I guess. Queuing is still unavoidable unless you have some power to predict when the crowd will be the least

And do let me know the time you've predicted, I promise I won't tell anyone.

Tim Ho Wan @ Toa Payoh
ERA Centre, #02-02
450 Toa Payoh Lorong 6
Singapore 319394
Daily 11am-10pm

Tel: 64832000

Special thanks to hungrygowhere for the invite

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