Monday, December 05, 2016

chinese/dim sum: i strongly recommend TIM HO WAN

No. 36, ZhongXiao W Rd, Sec. 1
(02) 2370-7078

MRT: Taipei Main Station

website: Tim Ho Wan Taiwan's FB page

hours: 10AM - 10PM


Kid friendliness: high chairs available and lots to choose from for dim sum loving kids

Visit reviewed: 11/10/2014 & 1/30/2015 & 6/29/2015 & 12/4/2016

WILL PEOPLE LINE UP FOR YOUR RESTAURANT? That seems to be the gauge for new places opening up in Taipei. People infamously lined up for hours for Mister Donut, Krispy Kreme, Honey Pig, Honey Creme, Hai Di Lao, Taipei In and Out pop up, and a few years ago, it was Tim Ho Wan. I just revisited Tim Ho Wan today and realized that I had this blog draft sitting in my folder for the past few years! So here it finally is...

Tim Ho Wan is famous for being one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurants you can dine at with dishes averaging about NT$100+ for its dim sum. I've never been to the original location in Hong Kong, but luckily I was with a group of friends who knew how to order-- everything on the menu! To my surprise, everything lived up to its reputation and was delicious-- my favorite was the baked bun with bbq pork which had an thin, sweet crust instead of the bready white bun we have grown up with. 

I would stick to the dim sum over the rice bowls or congee that they have, which I think are better at places like Lao Yo Ji. Also note there isn't much for strict vegetarians here, most of their dishes that might seem to be vegetarian might have pork fat or oil in it, so there's only one or two things that you'd be able to try here if you are vegetarian. For an entire array of vegetarian dim sum, you can head over to Yang Shin

If you only have a group of two or four people, then the MUST ORDERS at Tim Ho Wan are the baked bbq bun, the shrimp or pork liver chang fun, the pork dumpling with shrimp (aka siu mai) and one of the more unique fried items like the spring roll with egg white, and save room for the mango pomelo sago and steamed egg cake. Those were my favorites. 

Baked bun with bbq pork (NT$118 for 3) The first time I had this, I loved it. But on my most recent visit, I noticed that it can be a little overly sweet since the filling is sweet and the bun itself is sweet. But inside the bun is mostly air and so it's easy to finish one. But I don't think I could eat more than one in one sitting. 

The chang fun here is dubbed the vermicelli roll, and comes with shrimp, bbq pork, beef, plain or pork liver. 

Vermicelli Roll with Pork Liver (NT$128) 

Steamed Pork Dumpling with Shrimp (NT$128)

Spring Roll with Egg White (NT$98) 

 Vermicelli Roll with Sweet and Sesame Sauce (NT$108) vegetarian

Steamed Prawn Dumpling (NT$138)

Pan fried carrot cake (NT$98 for 3) aka Radish cake is soft and not that crispy, but it's good and you can taste the chunks of radish inside. 

Steamed Pork Rib with Black Bean Sauce (NT$108) 

Steamed Beef Ball with Beancurd Skin (NT$98)

Beancurd Skin Roll with Pork and Shrimp (NT$98) 

Braised Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce (Not for me, but so you can see the portion and size and how it was more saucy on one visit than the other :) 

Spinach dumpling with shrimp - one of the few with veggies in it. 

Deep Fried Beancurd Skin Roll with Shrimp

Wasabi Salted Prawn Dumpling (NT$128)

Congee with Lean Pork, Century Egg and Salted Egg (NT$108) I still like the the congee at Lao Yo Ji the best. 

Seasonal Veggies

Rice with Beef and Fried Egg (NT$138)

Chicken, sausage and mushroom rice (NT$138) 

Glutinous rice with lotus leaf (NT$128) I would get this over the rice bowls- it's massive enough to share and the glistening sticky rice is stuffed with meat, mushrooms and surprises.

Mango Pomelo Sago (NT$118) Yum! I'll always remember the first time I had this kind of dessert in Hong Kong, and this dessert soup is refreshing at the end of the meal.

Steamed Egg Cake (NT$98) To my surprise, I liked this a lot! Fluffy and spongy, this was like a moist brown sugar cake.

Now that there are several locations and take out counters, the lines aren't as insane on a daily basis, but on weekends make a reservation in advance to avoid the wait. Also good news is that they haven't raised their prices yet since opening. 


Xinyi Mitsukoshi A8, B2
No. 12, SongGao Rd, Xinyi District
(02) 2722-9358
11AM- 9:30PM; until 10PM on friday and weekends

Hankyu Mall Food Court
No 8, ZhongXiao E. Road, Sec. 5, B2
(02) 2729-3378
7:30AM-9:30PM; until 10PM on friday and weekends (wow! 730AM!)

No. 28 XinDian Road, B1
(02) 2955-7978
11AM- 10PM

No. 251, Taiwan DaDao Sec. 3
(04) 2258-6778

No.777, Bo'ai 2nd Road, Zuoying Dist | B1F, Hanshin Arena Shopping Plaza, Kaohsiung 813

Friday, December 02, 2016

pop up/asia best 50: MINISTRY OF CRAB POP UP AT REGENT TAIPEI 12/1-12/4

SRI LANKA IS EIGHT HOURS AWAY FROM TAIPEI, BY PLANE. It's a small island on the south side of India, which I didn't know until I looked it up yesterday. Thank goodness for Google. 

Why was I looking up Sri Lanka? Because I was charmed by the enthusiasm, backstory and food of half Japanese, half Sri Lankan chef Dharshan Munidasa, who has two restaurants ranked on Asia's Best 50. He cooked up a storm while a student at John Hopkins, with skills learned from his Japanese mom, and returned to Sri Lanka when his father passed away before graduating from college. Chef Munidasa brought his spices, woks, team and huge crabs from Sri Lanka to Taipei, to do a four day pop up at Regent Taipei from 12/1-12/4.  

From the moment I sat down and saw a bib with a motto to live by "Keep Calm and Crab On," I knew we were going to have a good meal and get our hands dirty. 

The set menu for two is NT$4800 or you could get 1-1.5 kg (2-3.5 pounds) crabs a la carte for NT$2580 or NT$4280, depending on weight. 

The tasting started off with a glass of Small Island Ice Tea, inspired by Long Island Ice Tea, with Sri Lankan tea and arrack, which is a coconut flower liquor. It's sweet accompaniment to the stronger flavors on the plate. 

Chili crab and pepper crabs might have been popularized by Singapore using exported Sri Lankan crabs, but Ministry of Crab is the first Sri Lankan restraurant "dedicated to serving the best crabs in their country." They are a "no freeze" restaurant so their seafood isn't frozen, and the crabs at the pop up are also live (up untl they are cooked.) Ofher dishes include OMG prawns and #crabzilla which are crabs over 2kg. Diners can opt for pepper crab (made with crushed Sri Lankan peppers), curry, garlic or garlic chili crab.

The OMG prawns were also delicious and slightly less work to eat. The head was the size of a lobster, which seemed oversized to the shrimpy body.

Jockeying for a shot among all the Taiwan news cameras and reporters. 😁😁 

Luckily several crabs came to the table, so it wasn't too awkward to duke it out for crab. The claws were almost as big as my fist and definitely more satisfying (for meat) than hairy crab, which is tiny in comparison. The black pepper crab wasn't overwhelming and a lot of the sauce came off when you take off the shell. The meat was sweet and I liked both the pepper and garlic flavors I tried. If you don't get the set, I would recommend the OMG prawn over the Curry Tiger Prawns which were slightly over cooked and a tad dried out. Otherwise just get a bunch of crab loving friends and share different flavors of crab. Thanks Regent Taipei for the invitation to the media event and lunch! 

Ministry of Crab's pop up is from 12/1-12/4 at Silk Place, on the 3rd floor in the Regent Taipei Hotel. Reservations recommended (02) 2521-5000