HONG KONG – TIM HO WAN

Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan

Dim Sum in Hong Kong is as ubiquitous as burgers in North American. One difference would be the breadth in quality and calibre of restaurants, there are hole-in-walls serving some of the best traditional dim sum in the city, to 5 star hotel restaurants exploring the definition a shrimp dumpling. Tim Ho wan falls closer to the former and is often lauded as the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world. Dishes range in price from $2.75 CAD to $4.50 (less than some dim sum places in Toronto!).

The original Mongkok location opened in 2009 and earned their one Michelin star the year after. With only 20-30 seats, locals and tourists alike would line up outside in the Hong Kong heat for hours. Today, there are multiple branches of Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong (including one indoors at IFC Mall, which makes lining up more comfortable) and they are expanding throughout Asia.

I visited the Sham Shui Po location this summer with The Hubby and his family while we were in Hong Kong. Since the original Mongkok location closed, this is now “the” Tim Ho Wan to visit. We arrived 15 minutes before the restaurant opened on a Wednesday morning and lucky enough to get a table in the first seating.

Compared to my experiences at other one Michelin star restaurants, I found Tim Ho Wan underwhelming in terms of service and atmosphere. The small, unassuming shop was efficient and tidy but didn’t have any aspects that stood out from other dim sum shops or restaurants. Servers hustled around the shop and lone diners were directed to shared tables. The acclaim and draw must be for the food?

We handed in our order sheet, which included dim sum classics like shrimp dumplings (har gow), shrimp rice roll, sticky rice, turnip cake, siew mai and the famous baked bbq buns. Dishes began to arrive quickly and our table was soon filled with plates and steamers. As I bit into juicy dumplings and spooned up sticky rice, I was enjoying the meal but confused. Each dish was consistently good and excellently crafted but nothing was wow-ing, that was until the plate of baked cha siu buns arrived.

Each order came with 3 buns and I would highly recommend ordering enough for each person to enjoy their own. After the five of us split one plate, we quickly ordered a second. These buns were pretty spectacular. Each bun was filled with saucey bbq pork and topped with a mixture of butter, flour, egg and sugar before being baked. This resulted in a crumbly topping, similar to a pineapple bun. Each bite was sweet and savoury.

While Tim Ho Wan may not warrant a 2 hour wait, 30 minutes would be worthwhile. The price was affordable for even the most budget-conscious traveller and the dim sum, while no frills, was authentic and tasty. If stopping by the Sham Shui Po location, I would recommend going early, otherwise, if it’s summer, the IFC Mall location in Central would be the most comfortable to queue up for. Menus and order sheets were available in Chinese and English.
Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan