When I heard there were lines snaking around the block for the first U.S. outpost of Tim Ho Wan, a Hong Kong-based dim sum chain, I thought, “Surely we have better in Flushing.” Still that Michelin star had me real curious about what was so special about Tim Ho Wan’s dim sum beyond the fact that it’s served 24 hours a day from check off menus instead of carts.
The answer, as I found out the other day, is that the dim sum at the East Village yum cha parlor isn’t really all that special. The steamed rice roll with shrimp was passable, but lacking in rice flavor, then again I’ve been spoiled by Joe’s. Pork and shrimp shiu mai, were meh. There is one item that stands head and shoulders above the rest though and is truly best in class, the baked BBQ pork buns.
“Oh, the pork buns are really good,” my pal, a dim sum newbie, said. “We have to get two orders,” he exclaimed. I was dubious, I mean I’m OK with pork buns, but two orders? As soon as I saw them, I knew he was right. Served three to an order, these char siu bao, were unlike any I’ve ever seen. A sugary bubbled crust sat on top of the smallish bun, while the bottom was crisp and burnished.
The bao itself was a perfect balance of sweetness, crunch, and just a hint of butteriness, encasing a lovely portion of char siu. It’s tempting to say that Tim Ho Wan’s pork buns are a cross between a flaky pork pie and a baked bun, but really they’re own thing. I could eat them all day, and I’d surely wait on line for them. One thing is certain, you can’t find a better pork bun in New York City, even in Flushing.
Tim Ho Wan, 85 Fourth Ave., 212-228-2800