Finding one-of-a-kind siopao in Tim Ho Wan

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork
Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (HK$12)

It’s already past mid-afternoon when we, armed with maps from the HK airport, alighted at the MTR station in the Mongkok district. Nina (of Just Wandering) whetted our collective appetites with a tale of a much-written about hole-in-the-wall place that serve this really different kind of siopao. Since we we were in the vicinity for a look-see of Mongkok’s electronic shops later in the afternoon, we thought why not find the place and taste for ourselves? Turns out the place wasn’t really hard to find as we ran into a motley group of hungry diners, both local and foreign, hogging the sidewalk along Kwong Wa Street. We were given a number and told to wait an hour.

Tim Ho Wan Outside Crowd
Tim Ho Wan Outside Crowd

We haven’t had lunch yet and it was already 4pm. Hmmm, could we stand in line for a taste of some dumplings and dimsum? Each time the door opened, customers, excited by the whiff of steamed dumplings, eagerly looked up to see whether it was their turn. We not-so-secretly wished half of the impatient tourists milling around will give up to speed up the waiting. No luck.

Steamed Beefball with Bean Curd Skin
Steamed Beefball with Bean Curd Skin (HK$12)

Lagal[og] says: Wait one hour we did. The interior isn’t quite hole-in-the-wall small as most of our Binondo shops but there’s little elbow room as diners literally rub elbows to dig into their food. We got seated along the narrow hallway next to the kitchen and in our famished state, the assortment of food aroma was heady.

Steamed Rice with Chicken and Preserved Meat
Steamed Rice with Chicken and Preserved Meat (HK$17)

Ironwulf says: Our table was small for the three of us and we were cramped, pressed onto the side of the wall. But who we are to complain now that we’re finally inside. We checked a few items on the menu and the ones which tempted our eyes were the pictures on our placemats. Soon. stacks of dimsum came one after another piling up to a tower. We’re ever ready to eat.

Glue Rice
Glue Rice

Lagal[og] says: To make up for the waiting time, we placed order after order. When our food arrived, the steamer baskets piled high on our crowded table. Some of the stuff are quite good like the Steamed Beef Balls with Bean Curd Skin. Some, like the Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumpling (Hakaw in our Chinatown), tastes bland and ordinary.

Chiu Chow Style Steamed Dumpling
Chiu Chow Style Steamed Dumpling (HK$)

However, the Baked Bun with Barbecued Pork (Baked Siopao) was well worth the trip, the wait and the hype. I guess it’s the baking that played a great part in making it so good with a very flaky crust that melts when you bite into it. How good was it? Well, we placed another order as soon as we took that first bite.

Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumpling
Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumpling (HK$18)

Ironwulf says: We definitely put every inch of our tables to good use. Starting out with the flavorful Chorizo preserved meat with Chicken on steamed rice to tame our hunger. Next, unwrapping the Glue Rice was a delightful messy experience, digging through the sticky rice and foraging for the tasty meat hidden inside.

Steamed Pork and Shrimp Dumplings
Steamed Pork and Shrimp Dumplings (HK$18)

Of course it didn’t take long for the dimsum baskets to stack up. The translucent Fresh Steamed Dumpling Chiu Chow Style reminded me a lot of a good fresh lumpia packed into smaller, very delicate wraps. The Steamed Pork with Shrimp Dumpling was also one my favorites of the meal.

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork
Another order of Baked Bun with BBQ Pork

The star of this whole meal and probably the one reason people should go here is the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork. It’s Baked Siopao in a recognizable yet different form. Unlike those white puffy siopaos we commonly know, this one has a crumbly baked bun with a white lightly sweet sugary topping. It crumbles delicately to let the smooth BBQ sauce and pork meat ooze out with every bite. It was an intense “Ah” moment as I devoured this splendid combination of sweet and salty flavor. So good, we have to have a second serving.

Lagal[og] adds: And so good, we’re considering dropping by again next time we find ourselves in HK.

Tim Ho Wan
G/F Phase 2, Tsui Yen Mansion,
Kwong Wa St., Mongkok
Open from 10am – 10pm daily

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