Ever since I tried the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant a few years ago at Tim Ho Wan’s original store in Mongkok, Hong Kong and had their famous BBQ Pork Buns, I had been hoping they would one day come to Sydney so I wouldn’t have to wait so long before my next fix. I’m sure many other Sydney foodies who have been lucky enough to taste these incredible pork buns were hoping for the same – and our prayers were answered this year when the Tim Ho Wan juggernaut rolled into Chatswood’s new dining precinct, The District.
The insane queues put me off during the first month, but we managed to get in relatively quickly on a good night (i.e. when gale force winds and storms were raging outside) to finally try it out. The store is quite spacious and airy, decked out in a simple, contemporary wooden Hong Kong diner style.
The selection of dishes isn’t that large – it’s not like your regular yum cha where there are trolleys which come around with all sorts of dim sum, but rather they have a limited selection of yum cha favourites and you order on a clipboard which you pass onto your waiter. It’s a bit unconventional having yum cha dishes for dinner, but we made it a more substantial meal by choosing one of their rice dishes.
First up were the signature Baked Buns with BBQ Pork – 3 little pockets of porky goodness. The baked exterior is sweet and crispy, reminiscent of a Chinese “pineapple bun” bread, while the inside opens up to reveal a tasty savoury BBQ pork filling, which oozes out with every bite. The Sydney version of these much hyped Pork Buns seem sweeter than the Hong Kong originals – perhaps the recipe was tweaked to suit a Western palate, but it makes the contrast between the sweet and savoury elements of the bun much more pronounced, which threw my friend off a bit as he was trying it for the first time.
Baked Bun with BBQ Pork, $7.80 and Rice with Chicken, Sausage and Mushroom, $8.50
The least impressive dish of the meal was the Rice with Chicken, Mushroom and Sausage. There wasn’t enough flavouring in the rice and it wasn’t a very large serving either, letting down an otherwise tasty meal.
We also had some yum cha classics like the Pork Dumplings with Shrimp a.k.a. “Siu Mai”. I thought that these were done well, they were quite generously sized and the meat was juicy. We also got a plate of the Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce, which were quite addictive and moreish, but there simply weren’t enough ribs on the plate for the price.
Pork Dumplings with Shrimp, $7.80
Pork Rib with Black Bean Sauce, $6.80
The Pork Buns alone are worth a return visit if you can handle the queues, but beware as not all the dishes at this much hyped diner are created equally – stick to the yum cha classics and you’ll be rewarded.