Tim Ho Wan
Tim Ho Wan is "Hong Kong's most famous dim sum," as stated on their menu, and, believe it or not, the recipient of 1 Michelin star. Pretty impressive for a dim sum restaurant with a fairly limited menu. The first Tim Ho Wan's to open in Singapore came just before I left in 2014, with queues getting near 3-hours in length. I'm not waiting 3 hours for any food, especially not dim sum. Instead, I tacked some extra time on a trip to Hong Kong and ate it at the train station. No queue. Win for Spencer. Efficiency is Tim Ho Wan's game: you sit and look at the small menu. You're given a pencil and a list of the menu items, which you mark off like you're at a sushi place.
I sat. I ate. Then, unable to comprehend what I had just consumed, my head exploded.
Before we get to the fatty gold at the end of the rainbow, I wanted to try to counter balance things with something healthy. I quickly perused the menu, saw something green, and got that. The vegetable and shrimp dumplings were fine, but nothing special. Steamed prawn, steamed greens, yawn. The bit of fish roe at the top made it perty, but didn't add much as far as flavor goes.
It's hard to tell in the picture, but it also came with Goop. Goopy sauces and soups are enjoyed much more in Chinese cuisine than any Western cuisine I've found, with the prime example being the jello-like bird's nest soup. Not my thing.
Char Siu Bao. It's the dim sum classic loved across the globe: pillowy steamed bread filled with piping hot Chinese BBQ pork. You've had it at Mandarin House, Lulu's, *insert Chinese restaurant you swear is delicious here*, but none of those can get close to matching what Tim Ho Wan has created.
Have you seen the movie Kingsmen? You remember the scene in the church where Colin Firth fights like 50 people? That's what I would do to a room of people if I found out there was only one order of these left. Let's talk about what makes these so great.
The exterior: The dough is unapologetically buttery and sugary. The bottom of the buns have reached a level of crunchy, buttery perfection, not unlike a piece of toasted brioche or even a cookie. The top has a similar crunch to it. The midsection has been left puffy and soft. You tear into it, expecting it to pull apart like a piece of bread...
The flakeyness: But it doesn't! It flakes apart like some kind of magical biscuit-bread hybrid.
The filling: It's salty, it's sweet, it's meaty. It's as delicious as anything from Pappy's or Bogart's (gasp!).
People tend to think bloggers are being hyperbolic when they say how good things are, but I swear to god, this is one of the greatest things I've ever eaten. Google other reviews of Tim Ho Wan and you'll see that everyone agrees.
Life goal: I figure out how to make these and open up a small baked BBQ pork bun stall. Soon enough, everyone is addicted to them. After fattening up the entire St. Louis population to proportions previously thought impossible on such a mass scale, I move on to the rest of the US. Following the rapid is expansion of both my BBQ bun chain and the waistlines of the American people, Tesla is forced to develop hovering chairs for fat people. Boom, I just wrote the prequel to WALL-E about how everyone ended up like this.