Tim Ho Wan Singapore, Plaza Singapura

tim ho wan singapore
Dim sum 点心 means “a piece of heart,” representing an item that takes sincerity and delicacy to make (一点心意). It is a skill so intricate that even Gordon Ramsey cannot master, and so when Hong Kong Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan (meaning: “add good luck”) opened in Singapore just today at 10am, we kiasu, rushed down.

tim ho wan
Is the dim sum as Q as the Queue? Let’s find out.

When Tim Ho Wan’s chef-founder Mak Kwai Pui was first approached to open a franchise in Singapore, his condition is everything has to be done the same way in Hong Kong. Chef Mak plans to visit the Singapore branch every three to four months to ensure that everything is in order. While he is away, the restaurant is in the good hands of Chef Fung Kam Tim, a Hong-Konger, who did very excellent work–his Peking duck is legendary–at Marriott’s Wan Hao.

tim ho wan singapore
Chef Mak formerly worked at a three Michelin-star restaurant Lung King Heen and left to open a hole-in-the-wall, affordable eatery that earns him a Michelin star since 2009. (Michelin stars are awarded yearly and you can lose the star.) People were shocked that such an eatery, that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars a meal, could win a star.

tim ho wan menu
Tim Ho Wan Singapore Menu

When asked why his dim sum is so outstanding, Chef Mak replied that making dim sum is very simple, you have to make it on-the-spot and serve it hot on-the-spot. In most places in Singapore, dim sum is ready-made and when customers order, they heat up the dim sum. But at Tim Ho Wan, everything is made fresh upon ordering.


char siew bao
The Four Heavenly Kings are a must-order. Everyone seemed to adore and blog about the baked bun with BBQ pork 酥皮叉烧包 (3 for $4.50, pictured above). A crowd-pleaser, the skin was crisp and the filling sweet but it wasn’t the best dish for me. I prefer the pork to have a darker sauce, and more char, and overall, more character.

vermicelli roll with pig's liver 黄沙猪润肠
If the BBQ pork bun was excellent, the other two “Kings” were better than excellent, more subtle and sublime. The vermicelli roll with pig’s liver 黄沙猪润肠 ($5.50, pictured above) was bland on first bite but as you eat more, it grows on you. There was a subtle happiness in it–how was it possible to make the liver as smooth and tender as the roll?! The steamed egg cake 香滑马来糕 (1pc $3.80, pictured below) was magical, the best I had ever eaten. Not as sweet as elsewhere, with a lightness of touch and fluffiness.


The last king, pan fried carrot cake 香煎萝卜糕 (3 pcs $4.50, pictured below), however, was a bit of hit-and-miss. Instead of blending into a real smooth cake, there were half-slices of radish, which gave the dish a lively texture. But it also means that the carrot cake depends on the supply of radish for the day. For our tasting, the radish came across as slightly sourish, which I liked, but it is not for everyone.

pan fried carrot cake 香煎萝卜糕


There was a slight contention for the steamed items. I savored every detail of the prawn dumpling 晶莹鲜虾饺 (4 pcs $5.50). The skin was perfectly luminous, so tender and chewy, without sticking to the tracing paper on the basket. Do you know this is the first time in years I had har gow that didn’t stick to the paper?! The ingredients in the skin was perfect in its microcosm, bouncy with bursting flavors and much integrity.

pork dumpling with shrimp 鲜虾烧卖皇
But Daniel Food Diary preferred the pork dumpling with shrimp 鲜虾烧卖皇 (4 pcs $5) because it tasted porky, the same reason I didn’t quite like it. Besides, the skin of the four siew mai stuck together.

garlic, mushroom, spinach dumpling 金蒜香菇菠菜胶
However, we both agreed that garlic, mushroom, spinach dumpling 金蒜香菇菠菜胶 (3 pcs $3.80) was divine. The skin was slippery and soft and tender and bouncy, contrasting the crunchiness of the vegetables that tasted a bit like chives. Even if you dislike vegetables like me, you must order and try this.


For a deep-fried item, the spring roll with egg white 赛螃蟹春卷 (3 pcs $4.20) was very unique. Although the skin could be dabbed of the oil, the crispiness of the skin was padded beautifully by the softness of the egg white, and when you add a dollop of the sweet-chili, the dish sings.


rice with chicken feet & pork rib 凤爪排骨饭
My last recommendation is also a must-order, rice with chicken feet & pork rib 凤爪排骨饭 ($6). Don’t know what sorcery it was but it was irresistibly fragrant. Could have a bit more chicken feet.

At the end of the meal, Daniel, having tried the one in Hong Kong, declared that Singapore branch is better. Hooray! As for me, the other Michelin-star dim sum restaurant I tried was Yauatcha in London. If I compare the two, I’d say they are both excellent, Yauatcha is more innovative while Tim Ho Wan is so solidly traditional that a white person can speak Cantonese just by eating the dim sum.

In the end, I am glad Tim Ho Wan has arrived in Singapore. The restaurant isn’t only about the pork bun; everything ranged from delicious to sublime. It may even replace my favorite dim sum restaurant, Mouth Restaurant. I await eagerly that Tim Ho Wan has outlets all over Singapore (so that we don’t have to queue for hours), and hope the standards can remain consistent.

Tim Ho Wan Singapore

68 Orchard Road
The Atrium@Orchard, Plaza Singapura
Singapore 238839
T: 6383 2828

10am-10pm daily

Rating: 3.777/5 stars

PS: Thanks, Pris, for hosting the media invite and thanks, Daniel, for bringing me along.

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15 replies »

  1. Hey I got confused, when I read your first para, I thought that u queue up and wanted to know how long you queue. But as I read on words ‘for our tasting’ and the very last part on ‘PS:..’ confirmed that its a tasting session.

    Did you happen to go again to queue? I heard that the queue today was about 2 hrs! And their service was quite bad.


    • I was Daniel’s plus-one. It was a tasting.

      They have a SMS system. You take a queue number, and you can go shop around, when your turn is up, they will SMS you. So don’t need to wait for 2 hours.

      About the bad service, I dunno leh. I didn’t experience it. I think if there is, it is probably because the response was so overwhelming and the staff couldn’t handle it. I did see some angry customers asking the receptionist what was going on. You know, a hungry man is an angry man. But give THW some time to sort the issues out. Or wait for the Toa Payoh branch to open. I really think THW may open many outlets, they are that good.


  2. I think Mouth Kitchen serves a very different range of dim sum, if I crave for some particular items, I would still go there. BUT, with them being so close, Mouth Kitchen’s business is likely to be affected.


  3. there was no sms system when i went there on 11th Apr @ 5.30pm. ppl were made to queue for hrs and when i left the place at 9pm (after devouring the CSB), there were ppl being given vouchers to come back on another day.


  4. It stunned us @ Payment counter that capita Vouchers were refused by you Tim Ho Wan, and its staff Joyce rejected them. She insisted on payment without offset from Capita Vouchers that seem unacceptable to your F&B, and also to Joyce. However, check with customer service Centre on 11.6.2013 @ 5 pm affirmed that only 3 tenants are allowed not to accept as Ms Melanie called her manager to confirm. Tim Ho Wan must accept them because it has already integrated into Capita system. Thus, why rejected my payment using Capita Vouchers without proper cause before so many patrons? Are you asian? We demand full explanations from Tim Ho Wan and Ms Joyce cum adequate compensation and apologies within 3 days. warm regards + thank you for the Attitude Problems towards Capita!


  5. Hmm did the standard of the dim sum drop because of the overwhelming crowds? When I went with my mum on Mon evening, the dim sum was mediocre, save for the BBQ pork bun and steamed cake. We were so disappointed that we have no intention to go back again. I find the dim sum at Taste Paradise (Ion Orchard) more intricate and consistent than THW. Even the chain restaurants like Crystal Jade and Imperial Treasure have served better dim sum than THW! Maybe we just went on a really bad day at at a really bad time.


  6. I am in toa payoh branch, the food is saltish and soggy, nothing to rave about.
    It’s too expensive, and I will never ever go back. There is so many good food and value for money Ina other places as we’ll.
    It’s so crowded , and everything is so robotic ,e very things is so messy , the girl spilled the chicken legs .. The miserable Phoenix crawls on the floor twice , I m sitting next to it the next table, the tables are so crammed and they made us sit on the tables they allowed to us. Messy , noisy, crammy,
    It’s definetly poor value for money .
    What’s so great about the char Siew poa. It’s so soggy sweet and saltish.

    No way I m going again


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