Tim Ho Wan – Cheapest Michelin Star Restaurant’s Dim Sum Is Good, Though Not Spectacular
[Hong Kong] Tim Ho Wan 添好運 is a Cinderella story, the hole-in-the-wall dim sum restaurant that scored One Michelin Star, thereby earning its reputation as the‘cheapest Michelin Star restaurant in the world’. Fame found its way. (The other cheap Michelin star restaurant is Ho Hung Kee)
Although there were a few branches, only the outlets at Mongkok and Sham Shui Po gained those hard-earned one stars, where ironically the swankier and classier looking branch at IFC didn’t. We never know how Michelin works.
But what I can tell you don’t bother queuing at its original Mongkok branch because it has already closed due to high rent. (WHAT?!)
That leaves me only with Sham Shui Po to go to, also with a 30-odd person queue, occupied with tourists armed with Michelin and travels guides (Most look like Mainlanders and Taiwanese). Get a number from the lady first. (Brush up your Cantonese because she doesn’t shout those numbers in English.)
Surprisingly, it took only a 15 minutes wait.
Owner-chef known as Pui-Gor (Chef Mak Kwai Pui) is formerly from 3-star Michelin restaurant Lung King Heen. His signature Baked Bun with Barbecued Pork (HK$16 for 3, SGD$2.55, USD$2.05) is seriously the best I ever eaten.
Very similar to a bolo bao, the sweet pastry covered bun is light and fluffy, with skin so thin, and saucy char siew pork within almost oozing out. Supercrazygood! The portion is small, and feels like you would want to finish all three at one go. My advice: Eat them straight once the pastries are out on your table.
The smooth silky and rather unique Rice Roll with Pig’s Intestines (HK$17, SGD$2.71, USD$2.19) is recommended as well. But then, the disappointment starts. Every other dim sum dish served paled in comparison soon after.
From the Siew Mai (HK$23, SGD$3.67, USD$2.97) to Steamed Beef Balls with Beancurd Skin (HK$14, SGD$2.23, USD$1,81), it feels like there are many other dim sum places with offerings better than this. Don’t get me wrong, those dishes were good but were not spectacular – at least not Michelin-astonishing. I thought to myself, “I had better”.
I suspect it has to do more with its execution rather than the recipe and ingredients. For example, the Carrot Cake (HK$12, SGD$1.91, USD$1.55) was fresh with delicious radish bits within (that part I simply enjoy), but was a tad oily and could have been pan-fried longer as the outer layer was just not crisp enough.
Some of my Hong Kong friends say that Tim Ho Wan is overrated. Is Tim Ho Wan a one-hit (dish) wonder? I still think it serves quality dim sum at very reasonable prices, with my entire bill at about HK$100 (SGD$15.94, USD$12.90) for 7 dishes! But… I won’t queue more than an hour for this.
Singapore can look forward to Tim Ho Wan’s opening at Plaza Singapura Orchard. Any fairy godmother can predict long queues (likely to be longer than Hong Kong’s). (Updated Read: Review Tim Ho Wan Singapore)
May the magic of its Baked Barbeque Pork remains. With only that one star left at Sham Shui Po, let’s hope they keep it, because everybody still loves a fairytale ending.
Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists 添好運
9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po 深水埗福榮街9-11號地下 (10 min walk from Sham Shui Po MTR)
Tel: +852 2788 1226
Opening Hours: 8:00am – 9:30pm (Daily)
Other branches: Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station (Podium Level 1, IFC Mall) , Central, Tel: +852 2332 3078,
Shop B, C, & D, G/F, 2-8 Wharf Road, Seaview Building, North Point, Tel: +852 2979 5608