shrimp dumpling

Michelin starred dim sum at Tim Ho Wan

Hong Kong is an expensive city, but Tim Wo Han’s is a welcome exception – delicious, Michelin-starred dim sum at wallet-friendly prices.  The only downside is the line-up!

Tim Ho Wan’s started off life as a little “hole in the wall” joint in Sham Shui Po.  It now has 5 outlets in Hong Kong, has most recently opened in Melbourne, Australia and has a series of outlets throughout Asia.  A pretty good trajectory for somewhere with such humble beginnings, but with dim sum this good, it’s easy to see why.

We tend to visit Tim Ho Wan’s IFC branch, which is in the basement, near the entrance to the Airport Express.  Given its rather soulless location, if it’s good weather, my recommendation is to get a takeout and eat up on the roof of the IFC mall, looking out over the harbour.  Not only is the view and ambience better up there, but the line for takeout tends to move more quickly than for eating in.

To order at Tim Ho Wan’s you get in line (shepherded by an officious security guard who will ask you to remain inside the barriers) and collect a menu slip (pink for English, yellow for Cantonese) and pencil from the front desk.  You then mark your selections against the menu items accordingly.

We always agonise over whether to get something a bit more adventurous like chicken’s feet, or glutinous rice rolls with pork liver, but then always back out and go for our all time favourites – the shrimp dumplings; pork and chive dumplings; possibly some beef balls in bean curd or spring rolls and (and this is the best bit), the pork buns.

shrimp dumplings




pork and vegetable dumplings

Pork and Chive

The pork buns here really are amazing – the buns are sugar coated and airy-fairy light.  There’s also nothing quite like a tower of steaming bamboo steamers in front of you to pique the appetite.  It’s also great for that dash of authenticity in your photos :) 

pork buns 2

Pork buns

The best bit at Tim Ho Wan’s however is the price.  A generous lunch or  dinner for two, ordering around 6-7 dishes comes in at around $200, a price which is equal to two drinks in many of the bars in Central! 

Don’t expect to linger when you come here – service is very efficient, the moment you are shown your seat your order is processed and the food comes out in double quick time.  My experience with many Chinese eateries (other than high-end hotel versions) tends to be an emphasis on food rather than atmosphere or ambience – think strip-lighting rather than candle-light.

Tim Ho Wan is a bit of an institution, at least in my version of Hong Kong so far.  Definitely try it out for yourself.

Dinner for two: around $200 (no alcohol served, only tea/soft drinks)

Address: Shop 12A Hong Kong Station; Podium Level 1; IFC Mall, Central

Tel: 27881226

Brunch at Oolaa

We had our first Hong Kong brunch experience the other weekend at Oolaa in Soho.  It’s a big, family friendly venue with a ton of highchairs, which always get a tick in my book these days.  It’s also possible to reserve tables, another bonus, and there is plenty of stroller space.

The menu includes the usual brunch staples of eggs benedict; cooked breakfast; smoked salmon and eggs, together with other more interesting items such as the breakfast burrito or breakfast bruschetta.  The children’s menu is also good value, eggs and soldiers was particularly popular with our little one and didn’t break the bank at only $30.

My husband has an obsession from which he cannot deviate at brunch: he must always try the eggs benedict.  The eggs benedict at Oolaa were an immediate winner, coming as they did with bacon rather than the traditioneggs benedictal ham.  Reportedly they were rather good.  I opted for the breakfast burrito, a belt-busting, yet soothing antidote to my (ever so slight) hangover from the night before.   Both our meals were good and on the money.

burrito 1

Oolaa delivers exactly what you would expect from a decent brunch menu – it doesn’t aim too high, but its brunch staples are well-executed. I can whole heartedly recommend it as a crowd-pleaser that won’t break the bank.  It may not be one of the big brash free-flow boozy brunches, but that’s a different category of Hong Kong brunch altogether and in my opinion, the day’s activity (at least, if you want to get your money’s worth).  In contrast, Oolaa is great to get that weekend morning fix ahead for the rest of the day’s plans.  Its varied menu, which includes lunch options, means that there should be something to please everyone.

Price: Brunch for two (including coffees/juice) $300-$400

Address: G/F Bridges Street, CentreStage, Midlevels, Hong Kong

    Tel: 2803-2083


street corn

A Mexican fiesta at Brickhouse

We visited Brickhouse on a Saturday evening for a friend’s birthday. Even though it’s hardly a secret, you wouldn’t necessarily stumble across this little Mexican gem, it’s tucked down tiny D’Aguilar St, on your left off the hill leading up to LKF.  Once you do squeeze past the LKF-bound revellers and past the little market stalls into Brickhouse, you’re in for a treat.

Brickhouse is small, but open-fronted and exudes a light-hearted fiesta vibe with people spilling into the alley as they sip on beers and margaritas whilst waiting for a table (no reservations). When we visited, despite it being a Saturday night and the restaurant being full, we didn’t wait more than about 40 minutes for a table, long enough to have a drink and get properly hungry.

The menu includes the staples of Mexican food – some sharers to start such as chips and guacamole and salsa; “street style” corn; nachos etc before moving on to a variety of ceviche, quesadilla, taco and salad options and then some larger, meatier mains. We opted for a variety of the usual suspects to share – the chips and dip; corn; the nachos with shrimps, steak, cheese and salsa (actually amazing – comfort in a (granite) bowl); a tuna ceviche and two sharing plates of yummy bitesize tacos. We washed this down with Dos Equis and Margaritas – delicious! ceviche

The highlights of the meal for me were the street style corn and the tacos. The corn was lightly charred, fresh and sweet with a hint of spice, tang of fresh lime squeezed on at the table and saltiness of shaved cheese which the corn must have been rolled in.  Definitely order it if you visit Brickhouse.  The taco medley included steak; shrimp; pork; fish and chicken, each different and each a delightful two – three bites.  There are no pictures of the tacos because, however hard you try, you can never get an attractive picture of a plate of open-faced tacos (sorry). street corn

There are only two desserts on the menu – a chocolate chilli fondant and a goats milk rice pudding. We were going to order both, but sadly there was no rice pudding on the night we visited.  The chocolate fondant however was a great end to the meal, although maybe a bit too rich for one – get an extra spoon!

All in all we really enjoyed our evening, if I had a gripe it would be that the service tailed off a bit towards the end of the night, but not so as to impact our evening. Brickhouse is a great place to kick-start an evening out, especially with friends.  It feels like a cool bar for a few drinks to get the party started, which also happens to have great food that hits the spot.

Cost: whilst individual items are not expensive, it seems to add up!  We paid $2400 for four including service, but that did include several rounds of drinks, which I think were the culprit in terms of pushing the price up.

Address: 20A D’Aguilar Street via Brick Lane, Central.  (food served until midnight and open Thurs-Sat until 4am(!!), 2am Mon-Wed)