Best Food Singapore: Tim Ho Wan
Here’s the audio version if you would prefer to listen rather than read!
Stumbling out of the train station after a long days travel from Lombok, via Jakarta to Singapore there I saw an eating nirvana- the glow of a Tim Ho Wan restaurant! I rejoiced! The bustling moonlit streets of Singapore were calling me forth with the promise of delicious food. I could almost smell the delicious pork buns from afar. I knew I was saved!
This Hong Kong based restaurant grew famous for being supposedly the most economical Michelin star restaurant in the world, and visitors would flock to devour their roasted pork buns. Now the Hong Kong restaurant that was high on my restaurant bucket list. Luckily the craze of Tim Ho Wan has spread and they have opened franchises all over Asia- including recently in my hometown of Melbourne and this outlet that we stumbled upon in Singapore.
In my mind there always seemed to be a competition between Tim Ho Wan and the Taiwanese food icon Din Tai Fung for the most delicious dumplings. You can read about my obsession with the xiao long bao (steamed pork soup dumplings) from Din Tai Fung, which is a foodie treat that I regularly enjoy. Check it out here! Most people had a favourite eatery out of the two, for a whole range of different reasons, but it mainly appeared as a battle over the best dumplings – who had the best flavours? The most delicious wrappers? Which was steamed better? As a mad dumpling lover I was keen to try both places and to make the comparison myself.
After climbing a seemingly endless amount of stairs out of the station with our heavy bags, and a growling hungry belly, I knew I had to try Tim Ho Wan- then and there! This had to be the start of my food adventures in Singapore!
Luckily for us we could grab a seat right away and were promptly given menus and a drinks order taken by the sweet ladies running the floor service. The fella and I were both particularly hungry so we ordered an assortment of dishes- whatever we thought sounded delicious. These items including the famous pork buns, glutinous rice and a few different types of dumplings.
First to arrive at the table, and the one item that I had been dying to try was the famous roasted pork buns. These three little morsels of heaven are baked in a oven which allows the bun to have both its crunchy exterior and moist doughy centre. The char siu styled roast pork is increadibly flavourful and rich, and has the ideal roasted pork texture of still being slightly chewy. The pork is coated in a sweet, almost tangy, BBQ sauce. It is this sauce with succulent chunks of the pork that really wows the palette. I could have plates and plates of these buns. They were insanely good!
Tim Ho Wan late night pork buns. The perfect pick me up after a long day flying. Great start to Singapore! #Singapore #exploresingapore #yoursingapore #asia #explore #tourist #foodie #foodgasm #foodblogger #ilovetravel #foodietravel #delicious #porkbuns #timhowan #hungrybellytravels #onthemove #droolworthy #instafood #instaeat
The fella doesn’t eat seafood which meant that I got to order a serve of prawn dumplings all for myself! Hooray! Prawn dumplings are my absolute favourite, and are always a constant addition to any order I make at dim sum eateries. They are the item from which I compare different yum cha eateries. These Tim Ho Wan dumplings were very generous with filling- each dumpling had the meat of an entire prawn. The meat was very juicy! The most appealing part of the dumpling for me is always the wrapper, and the wrappers at Tim Ho Wan are thin and perfectly steamed. This were kick arse prawn dumplings!
We also ordered a serve of the rolled roast pork dumplings. I hadn’t had dumplings like these before- where the filling is rolled like a spring roll in vermincelli paper, then steamed, and served in a soy sauce based sauce. The pork was once again delicious! THEY KNOW HOW TO MAKE DELICIOUS ROAST PORK! The soy sauce was slightly sweet and had a hint of ginger. I only had a little piece, as I was too busy with the prawn dumplings, but both the fella and I really enjoyed these.
The dark horse menu item, and the random choice on my part, was the glutinous rice cooked in a lotus leaf. I’d never had glutinous rice, or tried anything steamed in a lotus leaf, but my taste buds were intrigued! I loved the presentation of this dish, where you get to unwrap the layers of the lotus leaves to expose the moist sticky centre and to have a wave of hot porky starchy steam fills your nostrils. This glutionous rice is combined with fatty pork pieces, then steamed so that you get this sticky delicious gluey rice. Personally I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped. I found the flavour of the lotus to be too overpowering, and generally found the dish too rich and fatty for my taste. I can understand why others would go crazy for it, but just wasn’t for me.
Now when it comes to the Din Tai Fung versus Tim Ho Wan competition, the truth is that I can’t name a winner. Although they have similarities in terms of affordability and style, their menus are so different that it’s impossible to compare. Din Tai Fung makes the best xiao long bao, and Tim Ho Wan reigns supreme with it’s pork buns. It’s a must do to try both.
What I appreciate as a food lover is when an international brand will only grow at a pace when it keeps strict quality control to ensure that its high standards are met. Tim Ho Wan has achieved this. Yes they have stores throughout Asia – from Singapore to Taipei to the Phillipines, but it seems that every one of them serves authentic and delicious dishes that I hope are an honest representation of the glory of its Hong Kong flag ship store.
This was an delicious meal that was an ideal start to my foodie adventure in Singapore. I can’t wait to try more dishes when they open their Melbourne store shortly. For food lovers wanting a perfect dumpling treat in Singapore, (or for that matter in any other main Asian city) I can highly recommend Tim Ho Wan. It’s a must try! The pork buns are alone worth the trip!
Have you eaten at one of the world-wide outlets of Tim Ho Wan? What was your favourite dish?