I haven't been to Chatswood in over a year, and many things have changed. So many different places to eat, with the new 'The District' side having new restaurants. Ippudo just opened in Macquarie Centre (despite only 3 menu choices) and it's going to be opened in Chatswood as well. Personally, I think if a restaurant is limited to one or two suburbs or even just a few cities, it makes it more exclusive and the original almost always tastes better.
Which beings me to Tim Ho Wan, originally from Hong Kong. In HK they have 4 THW, but even the newer ones don't taste as good as the original one. The original restaurant was in Mong Kok, but they got rid of that and moved to the suburb next door, Olympian City, where it's the most expensive one in HK but has the newest furnishing and most spacious. The other original Michelin star restaurant left is in Sham Shui Po. Even though that's where my grandma lives, it's still a bit of a walk from the MTR. Anyways, the other places in HK don't taste as nice as the original.
So I wasn't expecting much when THW moved from HK to Chatswood, and soon to be George St and Burwood. Apparently in the beginning when people queued down the escalator, the food was pretty good. A few months in they fired the head chef (apparently he was too good and they couldn't afford him) and that's when the crowds started to die and hence nowadays there's no massive lines.
electronic doors which try to replicate the olden days
Seating is definitelly 200% more spacious than HK. I guess HK real estate is more expensive so you have to double up for tables unless you want to wait for over 30min...Came here for a second lunch and there was still a decent amount of people here at 3pm.
I can't help but compare the Chatswood one and the HK ones. Some prices are up to 3 times more expensive than HK when comparing the bills (yes, I take photos of everything, including the receipt).Most things are twice as pricey. Yes, Australian labour is expensive, but I'm sure there's a way to keep the essence of the world's cheapest Michellin star restaurant after moving countries...However, even compared to normal yum cha, this place is definitely pricey for the not so amazing quality. There isn't a lot of selection either, but maybe more in the future. In HK, you can order extra non-dim sum stuff like stir-fried noodles etc.
I do like how they lined the ceiling with those bamboo steamer things
Didn't want to order too much since we heard not to expect too much from here, and we were still full from our first lunch before. Har gao: pretty avaerage. The skin could have been thinner and have a bit more of that slightly chewier/bouncy (?) texture. Siu Mai were what you would expect. The difference I guess is that Australian seafood is more fresh (unless they imported their sea food).
the disappointment, and the chefs who didn't put much love into making this
You would expect the bun base to be rolled out evenly at least even if it was thick, but unfortunately for all 3 of our pork buns, there was no consistency.
The HK ones were golden brown, thin/evenly rolled out base filled with pork where as this one was probably only 1/3 filled. These ones were quite pale in colour, you do get the super soft kind of crumbly texture, but the outside could be a tad more crispy. The bbq pork wasn't too overly seasoned, but there could have been more meat. I actually don't really like bbq pork buns with the white bun from normal Asian places, but I was mind blown by the one I had in HK, too bad I can't say the same for this one ):
Decent piece of chicken inside and the portion was generous. Wasn't too flavourful imo, but it was still nice.
They also forgot our order for pan-fried turnip cake, which also means it's not that popular for the chefs to brush past an order and only focus on the incoming orders for the BBQ pork buns. Also, tea is $2.50 per cup which we obviously didn't get. They don't even give you a tea pot, so they refill the cups for you, but it's normal (probably diluted) asian tea. Don't even get to choose the type of tea you get. Only cold water is free. Other yum cha places normally charge $2pp, and you do get your own tea pot/choice of tea leaves. One last thing, they recently started take away, but the bad thing is that they charge 30c for each cardboard takeaway box. I don't mind paying 50c for a normal plastic box which you can reusue. Even though cardboard is recyclable, a brown box is going to soak up juices/steam and what not, making it wet and definitely can't reuse,
Overall, give this place a try, but don't expect too much from it. Pretty average yum cha with more towards the expensive side for prices. Definitely go to the HK one! Sah cheap and super delicious.
I miss HK
BBQ pork bun from HK-on point