Review: New dishes and better taste at Tim Ho Wan's Toa Payoh branch

SINGAPORE - Although the crowd at the Plaza Singapura outlet of Hong Kong's Michelin-starred dim sum joint Tim Ho Wan has barely died down, and a new branch at Toa Payoh is already opening on Sunday (Sep 8).

A third outlet at Bedok is slated to open with the new mall in December, while plans for a fourth outlet in the West is underway.

I am a huge fan of the Hong Kong dim sum chain, and as much as I dislike queuing for food, I readily lined up for my fill at its flagship Mong Kok branch. It has now moved to Olympic City.

My visit to the Plaza Singapura branch before its official opening in April was a bit disappointing, but this media tasting at their newest outlet has whetted my appetite again.

The famous barbecue pork buns ($4.50) here taste a lot closer to the Hong Kong standard. The pastry is less cloyingly sweet, and goes well with the salty-sweet barbecue pork. 

Specially for the Singapore outlets, founder-chef Mak Kwai Pui has created several new items. For this month's opening, you will get to try six new dishes - three permanent and three monthly specials.

Items on the permanent menu exclusively at the Toa Payoh's branch are: Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling ($5), Vermicelli Roll with Sweet and Sesame Sauce ($4.20) and Mango Pomelo Sago ($5).

Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling may not suit the taste buds of Hong Kongers, but they will go down well with Singaporeans. The crisp pastry, chewy prawns, spicy wasabi dressing and savoury flying fish roe taste like a delicious kaleidoscope of flavours and textures.

The Mango Pomelo Sago dessert - one of my favourites - did not disappoint. The creamy mango puree, mango chunks and pomelo sacs were sweet. I only wish the chunks were bigger.

One of the misses was the Vermicelli Roll with Sweet and Sesame Sauce. The rice rolls were done well, but the combination tasted bland. I still preferred the rice rolls with fillings as they not only showcased the thin silky texture of the rolls and were flavourful with each bite.

The monthly specials menu which will feature three new items. This month's menu consists Fried Noodle with Barbecue Pork and Soy Sauce ($6), Steamed Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce ($5) and Deep Fried Dumpling with Salted Meat ($3.80).

The chicken feet were tender, but the flavour was a bit light. I couldn't taste much of the oyster sauce.

A better option is the noodles. It had just the right amount of sweet and savoriness from the char siew. The crunchy vegetables balanced the overall taste.

Skip the dumplings. The filling was too little and the sweet glutinous rice flour pastry did not seem to match the salty pork. If you want something deep fried, get a second serving of Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling.

The overall experience at the Toa Payoh branch was a pleasantly surprising one.

Forget about heading to town, this heartland branch is where the good dim sum's at. Hopefully the queue for this 86-seater restaurant will not be too long.

natlim@sph.com.sg

Tim Ho Wan Toa Payoh (opens Sep 8) Address: ERA Centre, 450 Toa Payoh Lorong 6 #02-02, Singapore 319394 Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm Contact Number: 6483 2000 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/timhowan Website: http://www.timhowan.com/