Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Amazing Asia * Sink Your Teeth into Light and Crisp Baked BBQ Pork Buns

BBQ Pork Buns are one of the most basic and popular Chinese dim sum dishes out there.  Most often, we would find them, also referred to as cha siu bao, steamed in one of the bamboo steamers and being sold at the sidewalk bakery or being pushed in a traditional dimsum cart in restaurants.

Two buns left from the full order of three,
before I could even take a snapshot of it,
that's how yummy they are and people can't wait 
But as the market becomes more competitive, chefs have to think of new dishes or rather new and innovative ways to present old dishes.  Tim Ho Wan, one of Hong Kong's famous hole in the wall dimsum restaurants and Michelin Star-rated, have just done that.  Personally, I find the traditional steamed buns sometimes heavy and too filling and am happily surprised to get these light and crisp buns instead.

When you step into a Tim Ho Wan restaurant, you'll almost see every table with their famous baked buns, that's if you are quick enough to spot them before the customers devour them while hot and fresh.  Each table has to wait for them to be baked and brought out on a giant tray fresh, which in an instant becomes empty in just a few seconds as the dishes are immediately distributed to the waiting customers.

We arrived in Singapore, just ready for late lunch at around 3pm.  Obviously we weren't satisfied with airplane food.  Who does anyway? ;-)  So we headed to the Tim Ho Wan brnach in Plaza Singapura, hoping to get a table quickly, assuming an off peak time.  But to our surprise, there was a long queue still.  Being a big fan of their buns which would often be a struggle to try in Hong Kong given our short visits, we were willing to wait this time, and the queue seem to be moving quickly.  We decided to break into two groups to get a better chance at getting tables.  After about 30 minutes playing musical chairs as we moved one seat after another nearer to the end of the queue, we finally got a table.  Not bad for a wait.  The other half of our group was not so lucky, since the restaurant requires all members of the group to be complete before seating you, and they had to queue up separately.  I think that's a fair guideline to have though.  No take out orders either for this branch, such a bummer!

Once seated (eight of us had to squeeze in a table for six), we got a menu which we could tick off what we wanted to order.  Three orders (3 pcs each order) of those baked buns for eight of us please, one each with one extra bun for the lucky one.  But before turning in our order, we added another one, just to make sure we ended up satisfied, and we did not regret it ;-)  We also ordered their famous Pan Fried Turnip Cake (otherwise referred to as Raddish Cake in the Philippines) as well as Steamed Egg Cake (otherwise referred to us Ma Lai Gao in Hong Kong or Malay Cake back home).  Despite the flurry of dim sum places in the Philippines, we still miss the great quality of the dim sum dishes that we can almost only find in Hong Kong.  After all, that's where dim sum originated.

Light and Crisp Based BBQ Pork Buns

Light and Fragrant Ma Lai Gao (Malay Sponge Cake)

Can't miss ordering my favorite dim sum dish:  Steamed Beef Balls,
best dipped  in Worchestershire Sauce which unfortunately, most restaurants nowadays don't serve

Eating dim sum reminds me of my childhood days when we would go back to my mom's hometown in Hong Kong, on every school break we get.  And we'd have towers of the yummiest and most authentic dim sum dishes each time we go.