One of the main reasons I'd been itching to go to Sydney for so long (other than Din Tai Fung (and taking my friend around)) was because of all the hype about Tim Ho Wan, the Michellin starred Yum Cha. During my trip planning, I was already quite intrigued by the mixed reviews I had seen online, and was very curious at what to expect. Being situated outside of the CBD, in Chatswood, we took the opportunity to take the train up. Luckily the store was relatively easy to find.
Arriving at 11.30am on a Wednesday mean that we did not have to wait to get a table, though I noticed a significant queue form around 10 minutes after we got seated.
The menu was very simplistic, consisting of one side only, but covered all the essentials of traditional Hong Kong Yum Cha
Instead of the traditional trolleys, they had a two sided tick sheet to order your meal. I guess this ensured that you get freshly cooked dim sim to order, rather than getting overcooked or cold ones from the trolleys.
The usual condiments of chilli, pepper, vinegar and soy sauce were readily available.
Cutlery was pretty plain, I was surprised that bowls weren't provided though.
There was only one blend of tea offered. Generically labeled as "Chinese Tea", I found it to be a blend of barley tea.
First to arrive was the signature dish, BBQ pork buns. I found the buns to be soft, and chewy, whilst the BBQ pork was warm and comforting. I really liked how the top was also very crumbly. This is definitely a dish to be enjoyed at Tim Ho Wan.
Next came the century egg and pork congee. I was rather surprised that the congee didn't have spring onions on top. I was also surprised that it had ample amounts of salted egg in it, which was quite unexpected. To be honest, I would have preferred the congee at Haoke back in Brisbane more preferable.
Next came the pan fried radish cake. It was very bland, and the pan fried sections weren't as crispy as I would have liked them to be.
On the other hand, this was the steamed pork and prawn roll wrapped in beancurd, which is one of my absolute must eats when going to Yum Cha. I can say absolutely that this is the best beancurd roll that I've ever had. The skin was soft and infused with the sauce, whilst the fillings were delightfully fresh.
We also tried the Vermicelli Roll with Sesame Sauce. I was quite disappointed with the rolls being as thick as they were, in addition to being very hard. We couldn't finish this plate actually.
In summary, I can see why the reviews are so mixed on Tim Ho Wan. The dishes are really hit and miss, in a sense that the ones they do well, they do very well, but the ones they do poorly at, they also do very poorly.
Price Range: $20 - $30 per person
In coming back to the CBD for some retail therapy, we stopped by Coco Noir at Westfield Central Plaza for tea.
Whilst the tea was rather generic, I found the macaroons to be a lot better flavoured than the other ones I've had in Brisbane. By saying that, I mean it tasted actually chocolatey/hazelnutty rather than just sugary.
Price Range: $5 - $15 per person
For dinner, I went to Makoto, which I must go to every time I go to Sydney.
Early on in the evening of a weekday, I considered it to be rather packed. We could barely find seats.
After the waitress shuffled other patrons around, we were seated. I was pleasantly surprised to see that sushi was served in two layers across the conveyor belt. To me, that was a clear indication that the sushi is fresh and goes fast.
Hot green tea was very much appreciated on such a chilly night, although it was considerably more expensive than the usual that we get in Brisbane.
I started off with the usual Salmon Nigiri. I found it to be rather small in portion size, but the rice was well seasoned, and the fish was thickly cut and fresh.
Feeling unsatisfied with the amount of salmon I got a platter salmon sashimi, which definitely hit the spot. It was fresh, thickly cut and really quite delicious.
Other dishes I had for the night included Unagi Nigiri, Salmon Hand Roll and Tobiko ship (I was too full from earlier meals to eat more). The serving sizes were more generous than the salmon nigiri, and the rice was nice and warm. The seaweed on the salmon hand roll was nice and crispy, the added lettuce gave it a much needed crunch, but on the flip side, the portion of salmon was rather small. The amount of tobiko and unagi was quite sufficient though.