I’ve been anticipating this opening ever since it was announced that Tim Ho Wan that they will open locations in Irvine, CA and Las Vegas. Irvine drew a lot of interest and long lines, with people waiting as long as those who queue up for Hot Nashville Chicken at Howlin’ Ray’s on Chinatown – up to 2 hours or more.
My group and I went to Irvine’s Tim Ho Wan three weeks after their grand opening (they had a soft opening for 2 to 3 weeks prior). At that time, the Irvine location had some service issues, such as running out of certain dim sum items and dishes being served to the wrong tables. I later went back for a quick bite a couple of months later. By that time, most of the issues they had were resolved.
However, it was quite the opposite at the Las Vegas location. Two weeks after their grand opening, the service was excellent, and the dim sum items were prepared well. They seemed to have quickly found their stride. Perhaps the standard of service and the food is higher for restaurants that are inside the big hotel + casinos? In addition, the Las Vegas location offers a few dishes that were not on Irvine’s menu.
I started off with one of their Mocktails: Temple of Heaven (lychee, lime, grapes, soda) – not too sweet but very refreshing. First item that was served was their signature Baked BBQ Pork Bun with that sweet outside layer. The size of the three were even, and it was baked to a nice golden brown. The buns contained an ample amount of BBQ Pork.
Next 2 dishes to arrive were the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow), and the Steamed Wagyu Beef Bundled with Green Apple and Mushroom. The Wagyu Beef dish was a little challenging using chopsticks to pick up the entire piece without it falling apart. I wasn’t too crazy about the dish as green apple was quite sour to me. This is one of the items that was not on the Irvine’s menu.
Another item that was also not on the Irvine menu was the Steamed Abalone with Chicken in “Mantou” Cup. It wasn’t as well seasoned as I’d liked it be.
Since I really enjoyed the first Mocktail that I decided to order another. This time, it was the “Foridden City” – Five Spice, Mint, Lime, Fever Tree Spiced Ginger Ale. Delicious and refreshing as well.
The next two dishes served were the Steamed Pork Dumpling with Shrimp (Siu Mai) and Deep Fried Shrimp Toast with Black Truffle and Foie Gras Sauce. The Shrimp Toast was taste but a little greasy. I also could not easily taste the black truffle.
The remaining savory dishes we ordered were the Pan Fried Turnip Cake, which was nicely pan-fried. I tend to like this item cooked until it’s completely brown on both sides, meaning that it will have a nice crunch with every bite. It also cooks the inside of the turnip cake to a softer texture.
The Deep Fried Bean Curd with Shrimp was good, though it was a little greasy.
Steamed Rice Rolls here were served with the soy sauce already poured over the rolls, letting the sweet and saltiness of the soy sauce seep into the rice noodle wrap. It worked well with the Wagyu Beef and Asparagus version but didn’t with the Lobster version. The soy sauce overwhelmed the delicate flavor of lobster, and soy was what I mainly tasted. On the menu, it was written to be a black bean sauce, and not soy. Forgot to inquire about this. The Lobster Rice Roll is yet another dish not on the Irvine menu.
We were full by this time, but I just had to order a small dessert, and that was the Deep Fried Sweet Pumpkin with Custard (filling). It was sweet, crunchy, and creamy. I would have ordered more if I weren’t so full.