Affordable Dim Sum with a Michelin Star
THE PRESTIGIOUS Michelin Star is a hallmark of fine dining, an international rating system used by Paris-based Michelin Guide to grade restaurants on their quality. It is the highest form of recognition in the culinary world. Only fine dining and expensive restaurants dominate the list. Star recipients gain immense prestige and exposure along with honor. So dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant can be very elusive and expensive. In fact, Manila does not have a Michelin Guide yet or a Michelin-starred restaurant, and the closest one can get into are restaurants owned by Michelinstarred chefs.
Tim Ho Wan, Hongkong’s famous Michelinstarred dim sum restaurant recently opened its 7th branch in the country in SM Seaside City Cebu, franchised by Foodee Global Concepts, one of Manila’s largest multi-brand food groups. Its president/CEO Rikki Dee graced the occasion. Since I have been enjoying Tim Ho Wan at the Glorietta in Makati every time I flew to Manila, I was delighted to see the much-awaited opening of the exquisite Dim Sum in Cebu.
Tim Ho Wan is a culinary phenomenon and the chef behind it is Dim Sum master chef Mak Kwai Pui who began learning the intricate art of dim sum at the age of 15. He left the 3 Michelin-starred Lung King Heen Restaurant in Hongkong’s Four Seasons Hotel and opened his 20-seater “hole-in-the-wall” eatery in Mongkok in 2009 where customers queued for 3 to 4 hours to get a table. In 2010, it earned a coveted star in the 2010 Hongkong & Macau Michelin Guide and is now renowned for being the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. Its Michelin Guide inclusion is unprecedented; breaking the norm that good food need not be expensive.
The restaurant’s claim to fame, now worldfamous Baked Bun with BBQ Pork is a unique remake of the steamed siopao with delicately crusty, pastry light, flaky not-so-thick dough filled with the goodness of barbecued pork (asado) with an enticing sweet and savory goodness. And it has to be eaten 15 minutes after it leaves the oven to enjoy the celebrity bun. Together with the other stellar dishes, Bean Curd Skin Roll with Pork & Shrimp, PanFried Radish Cake and Steamed Egg Cake, these Four Heavenly Kings awaken palates to a new culinary sensation. Every little dish, steamed or fried, bears witness to the cooking philosophy of Chef Mak Kawi Pui—freshness of the ingredients and proper technique. And freshness also means handmade-to-order, not pre-steamed or reheated. I relished every bite of Prawn Dumpling, Steamed Spinach Dumping with Shrimp, Vermicelli Roll Shrimp, Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling. Even the simple Poached Fresh Seasonal Vegetable drizzled with sweet soy was exciting.
More Cantonese dim sum delights are offered, popular items that never lose its appeal. The rice dishes are a meal in itself—Chicken, Sausage & Mushroom, Rice with Beef & Fried Egg and Glutinous Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaf. The Congee with Lean Pork, Century Egg and Salted Egg just had the right thick consistency. And I always wash down the exquisite goodness of Tim Ho Wan dim sum with a healthy glass of Hot or Cold Barley Water.