On the back of our Ghetto Dim Sum meal in Mong Kok last week, my friend G suggested that we go back to HK Island and have dinner with him at another Michelin starred establishment. I’d vaguely heard about Tim’s Kitchen before but I didn’t realise that it holds 2 Michelin stars, and it’s Macau counterpart holds 1 Michelin star.
Tim’s Kitchen is hidden away on a quiet street in Sheung Wan, but those in the know, like G, always make a reservation a few days in advance to avoid disappointment. This small and compact private kitchen serves up Traditional Cantonese food and was started by the former head chef of Hang Seng Bank. It was made famous and rewarded with its Michelin star because the chef whips up these dishes through pain of long hours, even days of preparation ( like our forefathers used to) and dragging himself to the market every morning to collect fresh ingredients. Not many restaurants serve classical Cantonese food anymore purely because of the time it takes to prepare half of these dishes!
There is a pre-order menu which allows customers to order the more complicated dishes a few days in advance of their meal. Such dishes include preparations with shark’s fin and bird’s nest, fresh conch, braised pomelo skin (apparently takes a few days to prepare) and baby pigeon. These dishes obviously hoik up the prices a bit compared to the regular menu from which you can order when you get there. We decided to forego the pre-order menu on this occasion and go with the good ol’ regular one on the night.
G warned us that we might not be able to find it as it doesn’t have “TIM’S KITCHEN” emblazoned on the front of the restaurant, so he helpfully emailed and said that it looks like this:
This however, did not prevent J from completely missing the restaurant and walking straight past and it wasn’t until G started waving wildly at him from the back of the restaurant (a futile task) that the waiter noticed and had to run outside to fetch him! Someone obviously wasn’t paying attention to the warning email 😛
Tim’s Kitchen has no corkage which may please some of you out there as that means you can bring in whatever tipple you like, and if that’s Strongbow cider or an Smirnoff Ice, then so be it. There is a conveniently positioned wine shop opposite the restaurant which must make a killing from customers dashing out to buy an emergency bottle of wine or bubbly.
Having failed to bring our own bottle, the 2 boys popped out to peruse the wine selection in the shop. After what seemed like ages, G returned (he got bored of looking and hunger took over), minus J. Then the 1st dish arrived- sauteed dried scallops with fresh crabmeat and scrambled egg. I debated for approximately 1.5 seconds whether we should wait for J but it looked like the wine lady had taken a shine to him and was in the middle of a lecture possibly titled “Wine through the ages”, so I made the executive decision to start eating without him hehe.
J eventually escaped the clutches of the wine lady and returned with a bottle of red recommended by his new friend, which I must say was quite pleasant and went well with the food. But enough on the beverage, I’m here to talk about Tim’s food!
The scallop dish was lovely. As all the ingredients were sauteed very delicately, the flavours were well preserved. Although Tim’s focuses mainly on seafood, their chicken dishes are also excellent and this was highlighted by the next serving of crispy chicken. The meat was so succulent and yet the skin was gorgeous and crispy and not too greasy.
I’m always on the look out for steamed pork with salty egg as it’s one of my favourite dishes my Dad cooks (a recipe passed down from my Grandma) so I was delighted and slightly too excited when I spotted it on the menu. I think I’m probably a little biased when I say that that was my favourite dish of the night, but it did taste fantastic and was almost as good as my Dad’s (but nothing ever tastes as good as when a parent cooks your childhood favourite dish). There was enough soup/gravy to smother my rice with and the pork was tender. Sometimes the salty egg can be too salty and overwhelm a dish. If you’re not careful and you add even more salt to your meat when you’re cooking then the whole dish tastes like you’ve emptied half a salt pot into your mouth. This of course would never occur in such an establishment as Tim’s and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, eating probably more than my fair share.
I thought I was still eggplant phobic after Toba Nagoya, but the stewed eggplant with minced pork and salty fish sauce was excellent and moreish. I marvelled at the vivid purple of the eggplant which really made the dish standout.
Our last dish was fried noodles with BBQ pork and spring onions. I am going to sit on the fence with this one as I’m not terribly keen on lots of spring onions in my food anyway and in this case, I felt that there were definitely more spring onions than pork. The noodles probably only needed a garnishing of onions but some people love liberal amounts of spring onion so I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
The dessert of the evening was ginkgo nut and beancurd sheet soup. Now the funny thing is that the beancurd and soup was yummy and sweet but the gingko nuts had an unusual essence of garlic infused in them. This garlic taste got progressively stronger as I chewed through all of the gingko nuts. I’m fairly sure that this was not the intention of Tim’s, so I can only surmise that the knife used to slice the nuts in half, was also used to cut garlic. Oh well, I enjoyed the soup though!
Chopstick rating: 3.5/5 (for now, when we return to eat some of the seafood and the pre-order dishes, I’ll review again!)
Tim’s Kitchen, G/F, 93 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan. Tel: 2543 5919. Open daily for lunch and dinner (closed Sundays and public holidays)
$$$$$$$$$$ (for dishes taken from regular menu- expect $300+ per head for dishes from the pre-order menu)