Asia, Baked Barbeque Pork Buns, Barbeque Pork Buns, China, Dim Sum, Din Tai Fung, Dumplings, Hong Kong, Maxim's Palace at City Hall, Searching for the Best Of, Selfish Years, Soup Dumplings, Taro Cakes, The Manor Seafood Restaurant, Tim Ho Wan
Mr. Selfish is partial to the dim sum in San Francisco, particularly the baked barbeque pork buns, since he’s had it since he was a kid. Since we were in Hong Kong for five days, we decided to try to find the best dim sum in Hong Kong, or at least some that would rival the baked pork buns from Mr. Selfish’s childhood.
First, we went to Tim Ho Wan, which is one of the few dim sum restaurants in the world with a Michelin star. It wasn’t fancy and the décor was quite lacking but the dim sum was delicious. Mr. Selfish was quite anxious to try their baked barbeque pork buns. Although they were sweet and fluffy with an egg custardy top, the barbeque pork was thick and savory. These baked pork buns are quite different from the ones in San Fran. Mr. Selfish still managed to eat four of them, and I had two. There are three buns in one order, which is a steal at 16 HKD ($2.06 USD) per order.
We also ordered the sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves (25 HKD/$3.22 USD), steamed dumplings with spinach, black mushroom, and shrimp (16 HKD/$2.06 USD), shumai (steamed pork and shrimp dumplings) (24 HKD/$3.09 USD), and pan fried taro cakes (12 HKD/$1.55 USD). Taro cakes are my personal favorite dim sum. All of these items were good but not nearly as special as the baked barbeque pork buns.
Verdict: All of the dim sum was very good but the baked barbeque pork buns were something special. Plus, this is cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant we’ve ever dined, and if the décor had been better, I would have given it a perfect 10.
Second, we went to Maxim’s Palace at City Hall, which we’ve been to previously during our honeymoon. We enjoyed it tremendously then and thought that we would see if it lived up to our memories. Maxim’s Palace is set in one large banquet hall. The atmosphere is lively with the ladies hawking their dim sum from traditional carts.
Mr. Selfish and I ordered fried squid with spicy salt (47 HKD/$6.05 USD), deep fried taro puffs (29 HKD/$3.73 USD), and baked barbeque pork puffs (35 HKD/$4.51 USD). The squid was surprisingly tender and tasty. The taro puffs were light and fluffy despite being deep fried, but the baked barbeque pork puffs fell flat. If we return to Maxim’s, we wouldn’t order the pork puffs again.
Verdict: The atmosphere was very nice, but we paid for it since the dim sum was a bit more expensive. Moreover,the dim sum could have been better. The highlight of our meal were the fluffy taro puffs.
Third, we visited Manor Sea Food Restaurant, which generally specializes in seafood but has a good dim sum selection for lunch.
We ordered the steamed barbeque pork buns (since they didn’t have baked ones) (48 HKD/$6.18 USD), shumai (48 HKD/$6.18 USD), pan fried turnip pudding (58 HKD/$7.47 USD), clay oven rolls (48 HKD/$6.18 USD). The pork buns and shumai were pretty typical, but I found the turnip pudding to be the best I’ve ever had. They were pan seared in individual cubes on all sides, which is different from the flat cakes I’ve tasted virtually everywhere else. The clay oven rolls were also interesting. We blindly ordered it and it ended up being crispy puffs with greens, mushrooms, and pork inside.
Verdict: Since taro cakes are my favorite dim sum and the Manor had the best taro cakes I’ve ever had, I’m rating this place a little higher that I would otherwise. The rest of the dim sum was good but nothing exceptional. Lastly, this dim sum was pretty pricey.
Finally, as a bonus, we decided to eat at Din Tai Fung, which is not a dim sum restaurant but a renowned Taiwanese chain. The Hong Kong branch even has a Michelin star. We had some greens, pork cutlet over fried rice, and pork soup dumplings. We attempted to master the art of eating soup dumplings, which requires putting them on a spoon, taking a small bite and gently sucking out the juicy broth in the dumpling, dipping it in vinegar sauce, and then eating the entire dumpling. The soup dumplings were the best item of the entire meal.
Verdict: Although it wasn’t really dim sum, the pork soup dumplings were divine!
FINAL TALLY: The clear winner is Tim Ho Wan. You can’t beat the price or the flavor of those baked barbeque pork buns. If I had my way, I would buy the baked pork buns from Tim Ho Wan and the turnip cake from the Manor for my perfect dim sum meal.
As a final note, Mr. Selfish and I are currently in Shanghai as I write this post and we’ve been on a quest to find the best soup dumplings here. So, here’s a picture of me with the soup dumpling mascot from the Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong.