It seemed like the perfect storm of a food experience.
Cheap + a Michelin star + dim sum in Hong Kong = hells yes, Tim Ho Wan.
Also, consider that I’ve never been to a Michelin star restaurant, and it had been about a decade since I’ve had dim sum (I know, it’s a sin). When I heard about Tim Ho Wan, it was on. I was prepared for a long wait, a cramped space, and the best crispy pork buns ever made.
Knowing that visiting Tim Ho Wan on a Sunday was akin to lining up for the Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July, we ate breakfast before dim sum and ventured over to Kowloon for 1030am. When we got to Tim Ho Wan, the hostess outside handed us the gweilo (English) menu and we were sent away with an hour quoted wait time. Backtracking a couple blocks to a Starbucks (hey, free wifi!), we reviewed the menu and made our selections, to be handed in once seated.
Heading back after an hour, we realised we were nowhere near being seated. Our number was 43. I think she was seating something like #17. Crap.
After another hour of patient waiting and stomach rumblings, we got in! I felt so victorious, pushing past the salivating crowd and into the elbow-room-only restaurant. Handing over our order, we waited for it all to hit the table. Fortunately for us, things rolled out quickly.
The crispy pork buns came first, and they were just as good as everyone said they were. Slightly crunchy, the bun tasted a bit like thin shortbread, and the pork was in a gooey sauce that was different than the more BBQ flavours we commonly see in North American cooking, but by no means less delicious. They come in orders of three, and since my friend is a vegetarian, and I didn’t want to overindulge, I took the last two home and had them for breakfast the next day. Smart idea.
The rest of what we ordered came out in quick succession, so we fought to make space by positively devouring the offerings. Shrimp vermicelli rolls x 2 orders, steamed shrimp dumplings, steamed pork & shrimp dumplings, beef spring rolls, fried turnip cake, and fried shrimp dumplings.
The vermicelli rolls, covered in soy sauce, were really yummy, and the steamed dumplings were so good I wanted to order another round. The fried turnip cake wasn’t my favourite, and there was something we didn’t quite like about the fried shrimp dumplings (but weren’t sure what). The pork buns and steamed dumplings stole the show, but that’s probably a pretty consistent white girl opinion.
It felt like we tried everything on the menu, but…
We didn’t try the chicken feet.
Despite not branching out and going completely authentic with chicken feet dangling from my beak (too much?), this epic spread cost less than $20 CAD … total.
Not only is Tim Ho Wan one of the only dim sum restaurants with a Michelin star, it is also the cheapest.
While I really enjoyed the experience, felt it was pretty authentic (but really, what do I know?), and though the food was great, I’m not sure it was worth the two hour wait, and I’m not really sure where the Michelin star comes from. However, I’m not a dim sum connoisseur by a long shot, so I really don’t know how epic it is…I just know that it was damn good, but not really two hour wait good.
Tip: If you really want to hit up Tim Ho Wan, go 1/2 hour before opening (10am) for a good number. Also, going in a party of two will get you seated faster. Weekdays are easier to get in.