Late last year I read about Tim Ho Wan in FT. I told myself I had to give it a go when I am in HK next. The branch at the IFC Mall is a heaven for shoppers like me, so a lunch stop downstairs is a convenient treat. When i found it I was shocked to see a long queue of people (more like a huddle of people, because everybody stood in front of the poor receptionist pressurising her for an early table) waiting for a table. There must be 60 diners crammed inside a canteen-like space! You have to share a table with total strangers. There isn't enough space for more than two dishes. I was impressed with the staple local Chinese dim sum - Prawn Cheung Fan (steamed rice roll), braised chicken feet in abalone sauce, prawn har gau, pork and prawn siu mai, steamed coriander and aged orange peel beef meat balls etc. The one dish I had to try in the end, against my strict diet, was the baked Char Siu Bun. The crust on top reminds me of the old 'Pineapple Bun' - sweet sugary thin crust - which sets off well against the savory barbecued pork inside. Be careful if you are dining alone: there are three big buns per serving. I packed two away for my friend. All in all, it is an amazing and refreshing experience. But if you grew up in HK, then don't waste an hour for a table. There are some dim sum palaces nearby which are almost as good. Still, if you are in HK for a few days and need to sample the most typical dim sum dishes, please go to one of Tim Ho Wan branches. Perhaps if you go there before noon you have a better chance of getting in. Beware, don't wear warm clothes even in winter. The place is hot! And don't bring your shopping with you, there ain't no space even for your Birkin bag.
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