Timwah Jacksonville: Dim Sum for Days
As locals continue to seek new taste experiences in our region, so too is Jacksonville's culinary landscape continuing to expand its footprint. New business owners are moving in and bringing with them an eclectic array of new food concepts to share. Case in point: Timwah Restaurant on the Southside. This tucked-away gem quickly made a name for itself with their Dim Sum service both at lunch and dinner. As their cart wheels from table to table delivering steaming house-made morsels, guests can't help but be interested ... and hungry. Partner Gourung Fan revels in each of the small plates served. Things like crispy fried shrimp balls, pork and chive bao, turnip cakes or red bean "piggie" buns are selections du jour, and Fan is eager to share his dim-sum enthusiasm with guests who are either completely curious, or absolutely craving, his classic Asian fare. We caught up with him for lunch one afternoon -- and as he meticulously set dumplings, sweet buns, pork shumai and tea on our table in preparation for our meal--we learned a thing or two. Not only about the food, but also about the history of this delicious, long-standing Cantonese tradition.
Tell us a bit about your culinary background?
I first started working in Yummy House in Gainesville a couple of years ago, learning from my teacher Chef Sing (who is now my partner at Timwah). Then I moved back to New York and worked at Tim Ho Wan, a branch of the first Michelin star dim sum store from Hong Kong.
What was the transition like moving from Brooklyn, and the wide availability of every kind of cuisine, to Gainesville and Jacksonville?
It’s very different culturally speaking. Different pace, different attitude. Brooklyn is a lot more hustle and fast pace. Here, it’s more laid back and chill.
What does TimWah mean?
Sometimes you walk into a restaurant with a skeptical attitude, thinking the food might not be so good. Then there's that minute when you take your first bite, and you realize it’s actually, surprisingly, really good. You say TimWah TimWah TimWah - this stuff is good!
What was your inspiration to start TimWah?
We started Timwah because of our love for dim sum. We recognized that Jacksonville was in need of a legit spot and we knew it was our mission to bring the love here.
Could you provide some history of dim sum and a Chinese "brunch"?
Dim sum in Chinese means a touch of heart or a little piece of heart. It originated in Canton, China, from a common family ritual to gather together, when they can eat small portions of food while drinking tea.
How often do your menu items change?
Some of our staples remain unchanged. Like shumai (open-faced dumplings) and hagao (shrimp dumplings). With that said, every weekend we usually have some special or seasonal stuff, like baked turtle buns, mooncakes, etc.
What's the one thing most people don't know about eating dim sum? Is there etiquette involved in eating dim sum -- any rules?
I think dim sum and tea go together very well, like the tradition in the East of yin and yang, so it’s best to serve together. And in the dim sum tradition, we have no first main course, then dessert. So you could eat your dessert along with all the other food.
When is dim sum traditionally served?
Most dim sum carts are served in Cantonese restaurants as brunch or until mid-afternoon. Though you can also find it all day in some restaurants. Pretty much any legit Cantonese restaurant will serve dim sum.
Ready to make a date for Dim Sum? Timwah is located on the Southside of Jacksonville, open Wednesday to Sunday, 8358 Point Meadows Drive, Suite 11.