While many Houstonians get out of their way to avoid the hustle and bustle of the Katy Freeway, there’s a new reason – besides visiting Buc-ee, of course – to risk your sanity on the 26-lane hellhole: dim sum Michelin level.
Tim Ho WanHong Kong’s dim sum empire, known for being ‘the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world’, has just opened the doors to its first outpost in Texas (and only the fifth location in the United States ), and it’s in a mall in Katy Grand, which, let’s note, feels very Houston. Since we are big dim sum fans here at Houstoniawe tagged ourselves a few weeks ago previewing Katy’s new temple for all things dim sum, and we can enthusiastically say that a meal at Tim Ho Wan is well worth the pilgrimage.
Katy’s new Tim Ho Wan location is light and airy (much like his dim sum) and occupies over 5,000 square feet at one end of Katy Grand, a shopping center at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Grand Parkway. The interior of the space, which features a ceiling decorated with stylized dragon medallions (a reference to the restaurant’s logo) and traditional Chinese characters, can accommodate 120 people, with additional seating available on an outdoor patio, a perfect spot to take advantage of outside dim sum-dining season.
The restaurant’s simple menu includes more than 20 dim sum options that are divided into distinct categories based on cooking method, including steamed, baked, braised, pan-fried, fried, and blanched. The menu also has room for congee, a triumvirate of steamed rice rolls, steamed rice dishes, and a list of seven dessert options.
While all the dishes we tried during our meal were quite stellar – from har gow (steamed shrimp dumplings) to siu may (steamed pork balls with prawns) and the beef meatballs with bean curd skin – there were obviously a few standouts.
First on this list, and what Tim Ho Wan is perhaps best known for, is the restaurant’s barbecued pork buns. While most pork buns are steamed, these are baked until crispy and coated in an irresistible sugar crust. Once opened, sweet and hot char siu BBQ pork oozes from the buttery bun and onto your plate. That’s what dreams are made of. Although dim sum is meant to be shared, you and your guests will find yourself fighting over every bun that lands on your table, so be sure to order some more.
The lotus leaf sticky rice is another star on the menu. It arrives on the table wrapped like a gift in a lotus leaf, which when unrolled fills your table with a sweet, earthy aroma, an aroma it imparts to the sticky rice and mixture of sweet and tangy meats it contains. It’s a hearty entrée, so practice moderation while eating it to save room for additional dim sum wonders.
Equally compelling is the Pan-Seared Turnip Cake. It’s a fairly simple dish, but like everything at Tim Ho Wan, the texture of the cake is perfect. While the body of our turnip cake was soft and subtle, the outside sported the finest of chips on its skin – so thin it was almost imperceptible, yet it added so much to the texture profile of the dish.
And then came dessert and our much-needed introduction to Tim Ho Wan’s Creamy Lava Sesame Balls. The white sesame-coated balls arrived at our table crispy and piping hot, and once torn apart, the most delicious yellow cream oozed out before quickly making its way into our mouths by means of our fingers.
At the end of our feast of sesame-speckled lava balls (or maybe “massacre” is a better word for it), there was, rather depressingly, no hint of their presence anywhere on our finger-licking plates – a perfect ending to a meal we’ll have to relive many times over if we ever manage to unwrap it completely. But luckily, Tim Ho Wan is only a quick car ride away from our favorite hellmouth.