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The 5 Dishes You Absolutely Have To Try At Tim Ho Wan, The Michelin-Starred Dim Sum Spot

Tim Ho Wan has garnered an international reputation as a Michelin-starred dim sum spot. Naturally, when one opened up in Irvine, California, just outside the Foodbeast backyard, we had to go see what the deal was with this renowned restaurant.

As part of our research into Tim Ho Wan, myself and fellow Foodbeasts Reach, Marc, and Elie embarked on a dim sum version of Going In, where we eat the entire menu, rate it, and pick the top dishes to try.

After sampling all of the food Tim Ho Wan had to offer, and some contentious culinary debates, we narrowed it down to the below five dishes that are a must whenever you pop in to this dim sum legend.

Braised Beef Brisket with Rice Noodles

The braised brisket is pull-apart tender, and the broth is light and savory while still delivering big on flavor. The chunks of daikon radish inside offer an interesting texture as well. Of all of the noodle dishes we had, this one was the most filling and captivating.

Baked BBQ Pork Buns

Tim Ho Wan’s signature dim sum dish, these buns are light, flaky, and airy all at once. The sweet barbecue pork plays into all of that nicely, and the dish almost feels like a pastry more than a bun.

Deep Fried Eggplant with Shrimp

This was a sleeper on our list, but the combination of the eggplant and the juicy shrimp was one that was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Pan Fried Turnip Cake

A dim sum classic, these pan-fried turnip cakes come loaded with dried shrimp and cured Chinese sausage, which has a sweet yet deep flavor to it that permeates the entire slice.

Deep Fried Silky Milk Sticks

Nobody at the table had seen anything like these milk sticks before. They were like deep fried rectangles of panna cotta, a welcome and enjoyable end to the meal.


Of course, we all had other favorites that didn’t make it into this top five (including Tim Ho Wan’s famous rice rolls with BBQ pork), but the above five represent our unanimous can’t-miss dishes.

To see how we felt about the entire Tim Ho Wan menu, you can view the full episode of Going In above.

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Restaurants Video What's New

Char Siu Pizza: An Intriguing Fusion Of Cantonese BBQ Pork And Pizza

If you’ve had Chinese dim sum before, chances are you’ve broken into a couple of char siu bao. These fluffy, steamed white buns are filled with a sweet and savory BBQ pork called char siu, which is used widely across Cantonese cooking.

In the San Gabriel Valley, just outside of Los Angeles, however, one pizzeria is adding their own spin to the legendary red pork, creating a Char Siu Pizza that makes for a fusion of cuisines true to the owner’s roots.

char siu pizza

The Char Siu Pizza can be found at Rose City Pizza, a spot known for other viral creations like their Birria Pizza and Elote Pizza. While owner Brian Nittayo is already making waves with these fusion creations, the pie shop’s newest item can actually be attributed to his sister, Catherine.

Both Nittayo siblings took a pizza class together in their hometown of San Francisco prior to Rose City’s opening. Since they lived right outside of Chinatown growing up, char siu was a huge part of their lives. Catherine, as a result, was inspired to put char siu on one of her pizzas as a class project, an idea that was a huge hit amongst her peers.

Rose City’s current version of the pizza keeps the char siu, but surrounds it with the flavors of guabao, which is pork in folded steamed bao from China’s Fuzhuo province that are also common in the greater Los Angeles area. The char siu, which Nittayo makes in house, is added to a base of hoisin and cheese, then gets topped off with pickled red onions, spicy mustard, and cilantro.

An unconventional aspect of Rose City’s char siu is that it is sometimes cooked on a spit. While not the typical method used today, it does hail to the fact that char siu literally translates to “fork roasted.” Granted, it’s usually not cooked on the same spit as al pastor, but it does give a unique visual appeal to the pork.

The unctuous char siu makes for an intriguing and delectable topping to this creative pizza option, which looks as artistic as it tastes. As a half Chinese who grew up eating massive amounts of char siu, the pizza was both nostalgic yet innovative to me at the same time.

Creations like these are becoming more common in Los Angeles, especially the San Gabriel Valley. Restaurateurs are fusing the Chinese favorites they grew up on alongside their American school lunch staples, whether it be as a mapo tofu lasagna or putting salsa into their scallion pancake wraps. The Char Siu Pizza is another iteration of this growing pattern, and a worthy contribution to the evolving scene of fusion creations in Los Angeles.

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Culture Restaurants What's New

Dim Sum Gets Deep Fried And Bacon-Wrapped At This Unconventional Spot

There’s a beauty that comes from sitting down to dim sum with your friends and family. Going into a restaurant with a roaring hunger and eagerly watching those dim sum carts like hawks as servers roll by with steamers full of delicious Chinese cuisine is all part of the rewarding process that leads to a stomach full of mouthwatering bites. To some, it’s a morning tradition.

Tradition can be a beautiful thing, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to change things up a bit.

Dim sum restaurant 18 Folds in Anaheim, CA, is doing just that by offering an unconventional twist on some classic dim sum items.

Photo: Peter Pham

While the restaurant offers time-honored dim sum items like shumai, har gow, braised pork belly, and sticky rice served in a lotus leaf, they also offer some more modernized alternatives.

Patrons can find out of the norm dim sum iterations like deep fried spare ribs and bacon-wrapped shumai on the restaurant’s ’18 Folds Originals’ menu.

Photo: Peter Pham

The shumai is made by mixing together ground pork and shrimp with herbs and spices and hand-folding the meat together inside a wonton wrapper. The tedious, six-hour process is typically done before service even begins. Once the restaurant is open, the shumai is steamed and wrapped in bacon before dropping into the deep fryer.

Photo: Peter Pham

Rather than braise these ribs like the pork belly, chefs marinate them for an hour before dunking them into the deep fryer. Succulent with a crunch that could wake the dead, this was definitely the first time I saw someone attempting to deep fry ribs. As a BBQ smoker, my concerns with the way these ribs were tackled were essentially flash-fried away. Paired with a spicy chili oil, these ribs were hand-to-heart game changing.

If your heart is set on the traditional, however, the restaurant also does dim sum proper. It also helps that it’s one of the few spots that offer dim sum in the later hours of the day. While my heart will always belong to traditional dim sum, there’s just something so enticing about these deep fried items. Why can’t a guy just enjoy both takes?

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Culture Restaurants

This Michelin Star Dim Sum Brunch Buffet Celebrates Chinese New Year In Style

The Cantonese words for “dim sum” literally translate to the phrase “to touch the heart.” That’s because the small bites and delicacies are supposed to bring a smile to your face and stomach as you dive into them. If you’re looking for an extravagant experience of these feel-good bites for Chinese New Year, you need to look no further than this Michelin star dim sum brunch buffet in Vegas.

Michelin Star dim sum brunch buffetPhoto courtesy of Wynn Las Vegas

Conceived by chef Ming Yu at Wing Lei in the Wynn, this banquet of Chinese fare truly brings out all the bells and whistles. As the first Chinese restaurant to receive the coveted Michelin star in North America, you’d expect the meals here to be something truly special. What Chef Yu has designed, however, blows away all expectations.

It starts off with an elaborate table-side presentation featuring virtually every dim sum item out there. These include scallop dumplings, pan-seared radish cakes, puff pastries filled with Chinese BBQ pork, and a wide variety of other options.

From there, the various stations of available grub offer up a mix of Las Vegas flair and authentic Chinese fare. There’s your typical Sin City seafood presentation, with an abundance of crab, lobster, and oysters served on ice. There’s also sushi, prepared by the master chefs of nearby restaurants Wazuzu and Mizumi.

The authentic Chinese food stations are just as luxurious, with one offering up bowls of warm, hearty congee and plenty of slurp-worthy noodles. And at the atypical carving station, Peking duck is paired alongside the more common cuts of prime rib and herb-crusted rack of lamb.

Dessert brings this same blend of Vegas flash and Chinese flavor, with custard buns, lychee mochi, and plenty of other sweets adorning the buffet table.

The entire banquet is a masterful and decadent way to ring in the Year of the Dog. Those hoping to sample Chef Yu’s Michelin star dim sum brunch buffet will need to head there between February 15-21. A seat for this celebration costs $68.88, with a $10 discount available for kids under six.

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Restaurants Video

Unicorn Buns Are A Delicious, Instagram-Worthy Take On Dim Sum

Okay, I know that the unicorn gimmick is super played out. We’ve had sugar-laden, over-the-top creations like the Unicorn Frappuccino and Unicorn Pizza that have tarnished the reputation of this colorful Instagram food.

This steamed, delicious dim sum, however, provide a fresh, inspired take on the fad. Not only are Momma Fung’s buns succulent and scrumptious, but they’re also flashy without being too flamboyant, and colorful without going too far. They maintain a simple look, but retain an Instagram-worthy charm.

Momma Fung started their unicorn bun business as a way to “reimagine a dim sum favorite,” and they’ve been able to do that by painting humble dim sum with a modern image. We’ve seen this before with Koi Palace’s Five-Flavor Xiao Long Bao, but what sets Momma Fung’s apart is their ability to take the overdone unicorn food trend and spin their own fresh take on it. Instead of overloading it with sugar and not caring as much about flavor, these pork buns are the perfect intersection of mouthwatering and eye-popping.

If you’re itching to get some of these buns, they’re available at the 626 Night Market in Los Angeles. Your Instagram feed and stomach will both be thanking you.

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Restaurants Video

Can You Guess The 5 Mysterious Flavors In These Xiao Long Bao?

Xiao long bao, better known here in the United States as soup dumplings, are edible pieces of craftsmanship that take years to perfect. Originating from a village in Shanghai called Nanxiang, each xiao long bao provides a savory burst of soup and juicy pork or crab that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and looking for an iconic restaurant to enjoy traditional xiao long bao at, look no further than Koi Palace. Located just outside of San Francisco, this formerly Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant has become a mainstay for locals who regularly return to order authentic Chinese food, including xiao long bao.

While Koi Palace may be revered for its tradition, the restaurant isn’t afraid to spin some modern takes on classics. Their Five Flavor Xiao Long Bao, which preserves Nanxiang tradition whilst adding some visual pop for our Instagram feeds, has become so desired that Koi Palace’s sister restaurants, such as the millennial-populated Dragon Beaux, regularly feature the item as well.

Each dumpling is given the same intricate attention that all of the xiao long bao at Koi Palace receive. However, four of the five dumplings contain natural flavors and colors that are strikingly different from the original, such as spinach juice and kale for the green dumpling. The rest of the unique flavors and colors can be seen in the above video.

While the Five Flavor Xiao Long Bao may seem like a gimmick to those who just glance at a picture of it, they are Michelin-quality delights that deserve the same level of respect as the xiao long bao you can still find in Nanxiang.

Just remember to add black vinegar, ginger, and take the whole thing down in one bite. That’s how you get the true Xiao Long Bao experience, whether it be colored to appeal to social media or not.

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Watch Kids Try Authentic Chinese Food For The First Time

Trying food from different cultures can sometimes be a little nerve-racking, so you can imagine what it’s like when kids try to dig into something new or foreign to them.

WatchCut Video tapped into the curiosity of children, and had a group of them try authentic Chinese food.

This wasn’t the Panda Express type of food that a lot of us Americans are used to, as the food was a little more culturally-driven with dim sum and Chinese BBQ.

The kids tried dumplings, barbecue pork, and a few other goodies as they sometimes gave their approval, and sometimes let out a bit of protest.

OK, they freaked out quite a bit, but they at least gave most of the dishes a shot. There’s a lot of adults who wouldn’t be down to stick something in their mouths without knowing what it is, so props to these brave kids.

 

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Hit-Or-Miss Tastemade/Snapchat

The 5 Best Chinatowns in the World

Throughout the world, every metropolitan area hosts cultural enclaves like Little Italy or Japantown, but none of these miniature countries holds a candle to the prevalence of Chinatowns. A uniform aesthetic and self-sustainability sets Chinatowns apart because, especially when done well, non-Chinese people should feel like foreigners.

No matter where you are, a Chinatown should pull you across oceans and land masses to an authentic Chinese marketplace. It should be loud, cramped, and there’s no reason you should leave without getting everything you wanted. These aren’t the Chinatowns that only shine during Chinese New Year; these are the sprawling embassies you need to know.

 

London

PHOTO: GEOFF TOMPKINSON

Tiny Gerrard Street is actually home to London’s second Chinatown, but a city’s worth of Chinese restaurants, market stalls, and businesses are crammed into the two and a half blocks. A disorienting culture shock from the neighboring SoHo, Gerrard Street explodes with color and culture.

Best Dim Sum: New World

Shady Backroom: Experimental Cocktail Club, an attic bar with an unmarked entrance.

Languages Spoken: Mandarin, Cantonese, English

Phrase to Know: Nǎ lái de zōngsè mén? (Where is the brown door?)

 

Havana

PHOTO: VISITARCUBA.ORG

Once one of Latin America’s largest and most vibrant Chinatowns, Havana’s Barrio Chino currently spans one cramped alleyway. Though the Chinese population has dwindled and their descendants carry distinctly Cuban features, a drive remains to keep the barrio as authentic as possible.

Best Dim Sum: Tien-Tan (do yourself a favor and sit inside)

Shady Backroom: No room required; Cuba’s extensive black market make this street and the nearby city centre popular areas to find illegal wares.

Languages Spoken: Spanish, Mandarin, English

Phrase to Know: Lejos de los mosquitos por favor (Away from the mosquitos, please)

 

San Francisco

PHOTO: SAVVY CALIFORNIA

Be sure to pack your hiking boots because traversing this Chinatown makes Mount Everest look like a cakewalk. Major streets detract from the character-laden alleys set at 45 degree angles.

Best Dim Sum: New Asia

Shady Backroom: The network of tunnels beneath San Francisco is the worst kept secret of the Bay Area, but, if you’re into mazes and darkness, there are various tours you can take of bomb shelters and Prohibition passages.

Languages Spoken: Mandarin, Cantonese, English

Phrase to Know: Zhè shì sùshí zhǔyì zhě? (Is this vegetarian?)

 

Bangkok

PHOTO: ALYONA TRAVELS

This area is the bane of any Thai taxi driver’s existence. Many streets hold several names and most maps of the area lack any cardinal directions. Instead, follow the noise and smells; you’ll likely end up in capable Chinese hands.

Best Dim Sum: Hong Kong Noodle

Shady Backroom: Plaeng Nam Road houses an ancient Chinese pharmacy and temple on one of Chinatown’s tiniest streets.

Languages Spoken: Thai, Cantonese, Mandarin, English

Phrase to Know: Sụ̀ng wiṭhī thī̀ ca… (Which way to…)

New York

PHOTO: BOOMSBEAT

New York’s Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia, yet it still manages to make you feel like a canned sardine. In an amoeba-like fashion, the neighborhood engulfed many streets that used to belong to Little Italy, but preservationists have stilled the borders in recent years.

Best Dim Sum: Joy Luck Palace

Shady Backroom: Follow anyone whispering designer brand names at you to a backroom/basement and you’ll find yourself surrounded by knockoffs. Or, you know, wake up without your right kidney.

Languages Spoken: Mandarin, English, Cantonese, Spanish, Italian, Ukranian

Phrase to Know: Zuìzhōng bàojià (Final offer)