Tasty dim sum at Michelin starred restaurant Tim Ho Wan

We landed in Hong Kong from Canada at 5:00pm on September 19, 2014.

We had one single goal during our layover in Hong Kong – to enjoy delicious dim sum at Tim Ho Wan, famous being awarded a Michelin star in 2011 (Sham Shui Po location). It had been over a year since we’ve heard of this renowned, posisbly cheapest, Michelin starred restaurant in the world. We had been looking forward to this meal for months and anything else we had time for would be icing on the cake.

Tim Ho Wan was founded by Chef Mak Pui Gor, previous dim sum master at Lung King Heen in Four Seasons Hotel, the world’s first Chinese restaurant to be awarded a Michelin 3 star rating. What began as a small, humble, 30-seat eatery in Mongkok (this location has since closed) has now expanded to 4 other locations in HK, as well as into other Asian countries like Singapore and the Philippines.

We decided to visit the IFC Mall location, as it was most convenient. For those who are interested, the Airport Express train costs $100 HKD (less than $15 CAD) return and stops at Hong Kong Station, just below IFC Mall. Head up the escalator to Level 1 and turn left, you won’t miss the long queues. There is no sign that says “Tim Ho Wan” so familiarize yourself with their green logo and characters ahead of time so you don’t miss it!

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The other thing you need to prepare yourself for is how to get a table. It can be a little intimidating but don’t worry, it’s quite easy! Most people standing around have already registered themselves for a table and are waiting for their number to be called. So when you arrive, you need to push yourself to the front where you will likely be greeted by a busy, yet very efficient lady. Tell her how many people you have and ask for a yellow menu if you’re not automatically offered one, which is in English. You will be identified as a foreigner and a marking will be added beside your table number on her list so that when your number is called, it will be done so in English. As it gets closer to your number, I suggest standing near the front so you don’t miss your number when it’s called.

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If it’s a busy time, be prepared to wait! And keep in mind that numbers are not called out sequentially but according to how many people can be seated. Ie. A group of 2 will likely be seated before a group of 6.

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While in line, you should definitely start ticking off all the items you want off the menu. As your table number is approaching, you can give your menu in advance to the lady at the front. That way, your food will come as soon as you sit down. We gave our menu to her as we were being seated and didn’t have to wait long at all, so it’s really not necessary!

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We waited around 30-40 minutes before finally being seated. The restaurant is small and packed tightly. We sat in between 2 other groups on either side and felt packed like sardines but such is the experience of eating dim sum in Asia right? Pretty excited to start our highly anticipated meal!

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Place settings with their most popular dishes as well as a listing of their HK locations.

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Chuckled a bit. I know, we decided not to have tea with our dim sum, blasphemy! 😛

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Deep fried dumplings filled with pork ($15, 3pcs). Our first dish, which immediately left a good first impression. Fried dumplings are one of my favourite dim sum dishes, and these ones were perfect. Cripsy on the outside, fully cooked inside, nice and glutinous with a well seasoned, not too fatty pork filling. Yum!

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Panfried turnip cake ($15, 3pcs). Mike and I have tried different variations of this dish over the past few years. We have never been the biggest fans of this dish but being one of the “Big 4 Heavenly King Dim Sum from Tim Ho Wan,” we certainly had to try! We quite enjoyed the silky daikon flavour and beautiful sear of this cake.

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Steamed fresh shrimp dumplings ($27, 4 pcs). Delicate, translucent skins with nicely seasoned fresh, plump and succulent prawns – these were great.

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Steamed pork dumplings with shrimp ($27, 4 pcs). As you can see, these siu mai lacked the finesse of assembly, but were overall tasty.

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Steamed rice rolls stuffed with shrimp and chive ($27, 3 rolls) and Steamed rice rolls stuffed with BBQ pork ($21, 3 rolls). Both of us always enjoy this dim sum dish, but these rice rolls were too thick and the wrong texture, they should be delicate and slightly chewy. In addition, the proportion of filling to rice roll was too low 😦 The biggest disappointment of our meal.

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Baked bun with BBQ pork ($21, 3 pcs). La pièce de resistance! The reason why we came to Tim Ho Wan lies in these 3 sublime golden buns. Oven baked with a crispy sweet topping, this is the perfect love child of a pineapple bun and a BBQ pork bun. A delicious combination between salty and sweet. These were perfection and easily the highlight of our night! If we weren’t so full, we would’ve ordered more. After one bite, there was no doubt how these buns came to be Tim Ho Wan’s most famous dish.

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Tonic medlar & petal cake ($12, 3 pcs). This beautiful dessert jelly had subtle sweetness and was quite fragrant, filled with goji berries and osmanthus flowers. A very light and refreshing way to end our delicious meal!

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We had also ordered Steamed Egg Cake ($15) which unfortunately wasn’t available. Other dishes I would’ve liked to try on this menu include: Glutinous rice dumpling, Braised chicken feet with abalone sauce, Steamed rice rolls stuffed with pig’s liver, Sweet barley soup with bean curd sheet, Sweet pumpkin cream with red bean. Unfortunately, there were only 2 of us. We couldn’t possibly eat more and Michael is also not a fan of liver and chicken feet. It is also our understanding that some Tim Ho Wan locations may have dishes that are not available at others.

Aside from the rice rolls dishes, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and look forward to the opportunity of dining again at Tim Ho Wan, likely at a Singapore location in the near future! The dishes were high in quality and lived up to our expectations. We left happy and with full bellies.

Is it the best dim sum in the world? Probably not, but still darn tasty! Was it worth our 30-40 minute wait? I think so, even if just for those BBQ pork buns and the experience. With that being said, I would definitely go during down time at my next visit so I won’t have to wait in line as long! 😛

Our total bill came to around $180 HKD, which is approximately $25 CAD, what a steal! Keep in mind that there is a $3 service charge for each dine in customer. They also have take out available, which is much quicker if you want to grab a bite to eat on the go or don’t want to wait in line.

Have you tried Tim Ho Wan before? Would love to hear what you think!

Hong Kong locations:

  • Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station Podium Level 1, IFC Mall , Central
  • Shop 72, G/F, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, Tai Kok Tsui
  • G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po
  • Shop B, C, D on G/F Seaview building No 2-8 Wharf Road, North Point
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