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  • Writer's pictureMonch Weller

[34] On Heavenly Dimsum A Few Blocks Away: Tim Ho Wan, SM North EDSA

Updated: Oct 8, 2022

The title Four Heavenly Kings is usually linked to Chinese mythology. Outside its mythological ties, it sees frequent use in the Hong Kong music industry. The latter use of the phrase refers to four particular Chinese artists from the city: Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Leon Lai, and Aaron Kwok. But did you know that the Four Heavenly Kings can also pertain to food? That is, four best-selling menu items from Michelin Star-awarded dimsum joint Tim Ho Wan.

From its humble beginnings as a hole-in-the-wall eatery in Hong Kong, Tim Ho Wan has branched out to other countries – including the Philippines. It initially opened its flagship branch in SM Megamall's Mega Fashion Hall and eventually established other sites. It opened in Glorietta 3, Robinsons Place Manila, SM Mall of Asia, and SM North EDSA – the latter being the focus on this entry. Tim Ho Wan's authentic yet affordable dimsum specialties merited it the prestigious citation given by Michelin. The French tire manufacturer awarded the Michelin Star to much-recommended restaurants worldwide.

When Tim Ho Wan first opened, long queues were a common sight at its branches. As the restaurant implemented "no reservations" and "first come, first served" policies, many braved the lines to try out its pork buns – which rivaled those from Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie. The pork buns were just one of the four dimsum specialties – the so-called Big 4 Heavenly King Dim Sum – that Tim Ho Wan became popular for. The four specialties were:

  • Baked Bun with BBQ Pork

  • Vermicelli Roll Stuffed with Pig's Live

  • Pan Fried Turnip Cake

  • Steamed Egg Cake

I first visited Tim Ho Wan's SM North EDSA location in 2015 with a former partner, as the restaurant was a jeepney ride away from where we worked. Fortunately, it was already 2:00 in the afternoon when we arrived – which meant that the lunchtime queue was gone. It was able to seat more patrons than usual, with arrangements reminiscent of hole-in-the-wall food joints. Small stools and long benches were conveniently juxtaposed to maximize the establishment's space.

Large bamboo trays for dimsum served as chandeliers above diners' tables, and news articles about the restaurant adorned a portion of the restaurant's walls. Cantopop tunes played in the background, providing an authentic Hong Kong ambiance. Truly, Tim Ho Wan deserved the Michelin Star it received.

The Baked Bun with BBQ Pork, one of the establishment's four specialties, was on the same level as that of Tuan Tuan's taste-wise. It was slightly bigger and was packed with filling. However, these were my observations in 2015. When I dined there years later, the buns' filling was reduced and it appeared to have more air than actual pork.

Equally commendable were Tim Ho Wan's takes on the classic beancurd skin roll. The steamed Beancurd Skin with Pork and Shrimp had a filling that matched with the chewy beancurd skin, alongside a savory sauce that bound everything together. The Beancurd Skin Roll with Shrimp, a fried version of the latter, had a tougher wrapping due to being fried. Both were must-order items at Tim Ho Wan, nevertheless.

The Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf constituted a full meal in itself with its chicken, mushroom and sticky rice. Tim Ho Wan's take on the savory zongzi differed with the four-cornered shape, compared to the usual pyramid-shaped zongzi. Meanwhile, the Steamed Egg Cake worked best as a dessert with its ample texture and right amount of sweetness. The Pork Dumpling with Shrimp did not leave a mark as I found nothing special in it, or maybe it was just me.

That ends my review of the Michelin Star-awarded Tim Ho Wan. Visit its official website, Facebook page, and Instagram profile to stay updated with its latest offers.

Until the next review, bon appetit!


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