You may have heard the buzz about a new spot in NYC that is drawing hoards of people, willing to stand for hours in long lines – just to get a seat at the much anticipated and recently opened Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum restaurant in East Village.
There is something to be said about the thrill in the moments of anticipation while standing in long lines with fellow food enthusiasts… as you collectively tackle the cold weather…. all the while moving and shaking your bodies to stay warm…. counting and recounting the number of people ahead of you to figure out if you will make the first seating…. and painfully watching the folks ahead of you get joined by the rest of their friends… then finally all that wait ends in delicious gratification. You are finally seated! One thing is for sure…. you would have some stories to tell your friends for days to come. Oh!…. and just imagine how many of those friends will be so very envious that you actually got in! Ha! Ha!
Well! Every once in a while I get the urge to do something THAT crazy. I guess, it has a lot to do with who is with me. If its a dining companion who simply LOVES being part of the hottest food scene and all the thrill that comes with it… then why not?!
So I did it! I stood in line, with a fellow foodie K.L., for an hour… just to get a seat at Tim Ho Wan.
I can’t deny the thrill of finally making it in (partly because my body could finally thaw-out!). Specially when I noticed that many people after us in line were turned back. The restaurant is still in a soft open and this place is not as large as some of the the other Dim Sum places I have visited in Chinatown. The menu is easy to read – complete with pictures! You get to mark your order and hand over to the server. The food starts arriving soon after. The service was efficient. And the food was pretty delish. I admit, I am no dim sum expert – but I really liked what I ate. I also appreciated that we had some soy sauce and chili sauce at our table – in case we needed some adjustments for our taste preference. My favorite bite was the fried eggplant with the shrimp on top. I loved the earthy flavor of eggplant paired with the seafood… and textures played for a nice contrast as well.
One dish that is popping-up on a lot of menus lately is Congee. Until recently I had no idea what it was. Can you believe it, I first tasted it on a breakfast buffet at a hotel in Delhi, India! I really liked it! It has this really nice comforting quality to it…. perhaps best suited to colder weather. I now order it whenever possible. Congee is a porridge like dish…. and it tastes very similar to chicken corn soup you may have at an Asian restaurant. It can be amped-up with scallions, chili oil, chopped veggies, roasted garlic… and in the case of Tim Ho Wan, crispy noodles for added texture.
I am sure Tim Ho Wan will make further additions and adjustments to their food and service in the coming months. But, in case you wish to check it out in the near future – below are some tips for you to consider:
From what I am hearing and reading – morning crowds/lines seem to be larger than evening. I guess its because most people think about Dim Sum in the earlier part of the day. So, your better bet is to go for the dinner service that starts at 5 PM
We got in line at about 4:15 PM for 5 PM open. And we were seated by 5:20PM. Even though they promptly opened at 5, they seated folks in small batches so that all orders don’t hit the kitchen staff at the same time.
Many folks standing in lines behind us did not make it to the first seating. And when we exited, we noticed that no one was in line… they must have been turned back.
As I mentioned, the restaurant is still in a soft open – and they tend to run out of food. So try to get into the first seating or try another day when you can.
It seems that the restaurant’s goal is to get you in and out as fast as possible. So, if you wish to relax and linger over your meal – I suggest you don’t order everything at once. Order a few dishes. Enjoy them. Then take a pause… sip some hot tea or something. And when you are good and ready, order some more food.
Wish you successful Dim-Summing!