Tim Ho Wan with Bettina Chin

Dubbed the “cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant” in the world, Tim Ho Wan is a Hong Kong-based dim sum restaurant by Chef Mark Gui Pui and Leung Fai Keung that’s been making waves since appearing in the 2010 Hong Kong and Macau Guides. Now with over 45 locations around the world, Tim Ho Wan has settled in Astor Place, opening it’s doors to New Yorkers on December 2016. Eight months later, it’s still generating a line that goes out the door, a testament to its world renowned dim sum dishes.

We got a chance to dine at Tim Ho Wan with a few friends this week, including our good friend and dim sum lover Bettina Cho, who was gracious enough to tune us in on some of her food favorites (see interview below!) Unlike the traditional dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong where dishes make their way around the restaurant in push carts, Tim Ho Wan offers a different experience: waiters deliver each order to you directly from the kitchen (like most restaurants in town). We ordered a good variety of dim sum staples, but one of our favorites, the dish that we both drooled over, were the pork buns. The outside reminded us of our favorite Japanese “melon pan” with a crispy outside and an inside filled with sweet, savory BBQ pork. No to mention the ratio of bread to pork was perfection.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Born and raised here in the States (technically, New Jersey). A 35-year-old, Chinese-American woman who loves music, the arts, and a good mystery. My entire world is packaged into a perfect 21-month-old boy named Beckett (my son). I’m the Director of Special Projects and Legal Affairs at Opening Ceremony; I oversee all collaborations, produce our fashion shows, and serve as in-house counsel.

What was your first dim sum memory?
I’ve been eating dim sum since I was old enough to eat solid foods! It has been always a family affair and a reason for all the cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents (although they’ve since passed) to spend time together.

What’s your all-time favorite dim sum dish?
This is hard. It used to be pan-fried turnip cake because I’ve loved that dish for the longest time, but I think since venturing to Hong Kong as an adult, I really have come to love this pastry called pineapple pork buns, where the topping is deliciously sweet and crusty (looks like the skin of a pineapple, but there’s no pineapple in it) and the bun is filled with succulent roast pork.

What was your favorite dim sum dish at Tim Ho Wan?
This seems so plain, but the sautéed lettuce was particularly delicious!

What’s your go-to restaurant in NYC?
Mission Chinese Food. It’s just consistently good and a favorite among my friends.

What’s your next food destination?
I’m heading to Shanghai in about 2 days and I’m super excited to eat there. I’ve heard so many amazing things about the local cuisine. If anyone has recommendations, please send my way!

What’s your spirit food?
Kraft’s Mac and Cheese. A staple throughout my life. No matter how bougie I’d ever become, I can’t ever forget my roots.😆

Tim Ho Wan
85 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-2800

timhowanusa.com

Chikarashi

Yes, they’ve been in existence in the West Coast for some time now, but poké bowls are having a serious moment in New York right now. It’s finally summer and all people want to eat in this heat are something refreshing, poké bowls are the perfect dish for cravings like this.

Opened just in the past month, Chikarashi located on Canal Street between Centre and Baxter Street is one of the newer additions to the growing Hawaiian-inspired restaurants across town. Chef Michael Jong Lim has refined his culinary skills at multiple Michelin-starred kitchens of Masa, Aldea, and Aureole. Their carefully curated menu includes three kinds of fish, salmon, tuna (both regular and toro), and fluke, which are freshly delivered whole everyday. After a thorough explanation of the menu, Naomi decided to get the Goma Shoyu Tuna, a delicious mix of bluefin tuna, goma shoyu (sesame seed soy sauce), chili oil, nori (seaweed), hijiki (sea vegetable), avocado, and garlic chips. I went with the Ponzu Salmon, which included buttery Scottish salmon, wasabi ponzu, strips of shiso, avocado, tobiko (flying fish roe), and shichimi (Japanese seven spice mix). Each bowl speaks to the fusion concept of Hawaiian style poké, Japanese chirashi, along with Korean and Chinese flavors. The sesame seeds and chili oil in the Goma Shoyu Tuna give that Korean and Chinese flair, while the nori and hijiki layer up on the Japanese component of the dish. On the other hand, the Ponzu Salmon, our favorite out of the two, came with refreshing citrus flavors from the ponzu, and the tobiko added a unique crunchy texture. If you are feeling a bit more on the decadent side, you can also switch out your standard tuna with some toro (fatty tuna) for an extra dollar. Finally, after our meal, we got two of their sherbert-like soft serve of pineapple and lemon, finishing our meal with the perfect treat for a hot summer day.

Chikarashi also offers takeout, making it a perfect to-go spot if you work in the SoHo/Chinatown area. We have a feeling we’ll be dropping by for lunch often!

Chikarashi
227 Canal St, New York, NY 10013
(646) 649-5965
chikarashi.com

Shanghai Cafe

My sister and I made our way to the soup dumpling Mecca, Shanghai Cafe. We ordered pan fried noodles, their boiled dumplings, and of course, their famous soup dumplings. There is something quite special about these dumplings that make people come back for more. These dumplings have a thicker skin than any other soup dumpling I’ve eaten. This prevents from any breakage that might be caused by chopsticks. There’s nothing worse than boiling hot soup splattering all over you. The combination of the dumpling wrap and very flavorful broth had us eating one after the other, regardless of our burnt tongues.

Eating these soup dumplings at Shanghai Cafe reminded me of the first time I learned how to eat one. There are several different ways of eating a soup dumpling, but this is how I was taught. Lift a dumpling out of the bamboo steamer onto your spoon, by grabbing the top of the dumpling with your chopsticks. Next, bite off a little section on the side (some people recommend the top) and drink the soup. Once the soup is all gone, you can proceed to eat as any other dumpling.

Shanghai Cafe
100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013
(212) 966-3988
http://shanghaicafenyc.com/