Tim Ho Wan’s arrival at Raine Square in Perth was heralded with much fanfare. Being awarded a Michelin star, its opening was a big deal to Perth. To me, its opening signalled that Perth was finally moving into the international foodie big leagues.
Unfortunately, its limited menu disappointed those already familiar with it, and its simple dishes didn’t quite meet the lofty expectations set by hyping its Michelin star.
However, let me be an apologist for Tim Ho Wan.
They do quality dim sum consistently well. You can eat one of their dumplings without slathering it in anything else, and still have plenty of flavour in your mouth. Take this from me – I usually like to have a bowl of chilli oil when I order dim sum, and I didn’t bother here.
The food is simple. It’s nothing “different” nor “fantastic”, but their food is still made well and tastes good.
It’s not avant-garde, nor is it fancy-ass, but remember, for a time it was the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, and Michelin stars are awarded not just for taste, but for also consistency and technique. And balancing all three aspects is where Tim Ho Wan excels.
Dim sum restaurants are a dime a dozen, but more often than not, the food is greasy, salty and soggy, all hallmarks of comfort (and sometimes hangover) food. But it takes skill to satisfy dim sum cravings without making the diner feel grossed out afterwards. Tim Ho Wan is part of a new wave of dim sum restaurants opening in Perth that aim to do just that (Shy John’s dim sum also hits these same notes).
The steamed egg cake is always the highlight of my visits to Tim Ho Wan. It is also known as ma lai gao in Cantonese, which translates as “Malay cake”. This is because of its Malaysian origins.
The cake was ridiculously soft, and delectably toffee-like.
The pig liver vermicelli rolls had a very delicate rice flour skin which was complemented by the light and gingery liver inside. Not everyone likes liver, and this dish didn’t overwhelm with the liver flavour but didn’t let up on taste either. However, I’m not too sure it deserved prime billing as one of its “four heavenly kings”, as there was nothing too outstanding about it.
The pan-fried turnip cake was lighter than the ones you usually get at other dim sum restaurants. The surface of the cake was wonderfully crispy, and the insides were light and fluffy. You can taste sweet turnip chunks throughout the entire dish, and no external seasoning (i.e. chilli oil) was required to enjoy it. In fact, I’d caution against dipping it in condiments, lest you miss the subtlety in its flavour.
Fried prawn dumplings with wasabi sauce – you can’t go wrong with this.
The cheesy shrimp and almond balls were surprisingly light for something that has cheese in it.
Everything I had could be described as “light” and “delicate” in flavour, and that surprisingly left me wanting more. It is a refreshing change to have dim sum that doesn’t try to kill you with sodium.
As for service, I did rock up at 4 pm in the afternoon in between meal times, so the service I received was fantastic. But friends have reported chaotic service during peak hours.
How to book: This is dim sum. You’ll have to line up.
BYO: No BYO.
Where to find them: