Situated very unassumingly in the middle of the Mongkok area in Kowloon, Hong Kong, lies Tim Ho Wan. An internationally famous restaurant which carries the prestigious title as the ‘cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world’. After finding out this piece of information, it was with the utmost haste that I located an internet access point, obtained the address and recent reviews, which included the average cost of a meal, and headed in that direction.
My readings on Trip Advisor and other forums concluded that your total spend would be within a range of $5.00 – $10.00 AUD (60-160 HK) for a full meal of Yum Cha delicacies. My initial thought was, “That had to be total bullsh*t – no way Michelin would award a restaurant that cheap”. Turns out the reviews were spot on and the bill at my first Michelin experience was $20.00 for two.
Now, Tim Ho is no secret and by this I mean that plenty of people flock here. You would be wise to double-check, but I believe the opening hours are 10am – 10pm 7 days a week. From what I hear, the queues for brunch/lunch can be up to a two hour wait. On the fateful night I went, we arrived at 6:30pm and were seated instantly. To avoid the crowds it may be best for dinner (don’t quote me though).
This is an IN and OUT experience – the staff seem to hate people (or maybe just me). You come, stay for the food, certainly not for the service and leave feeling somewhat scarred emotionally, but very satisfied physically (in the tummy). You are provided with the menu (above) and order accordingly – only once! It was like pulling teeth with the agressive staff to allow us to order a second helping of pork buns.
The feast began with vermicelli roll stuffed with beef ($18 HKD – $2.20 AUD). The wrapping was gentle and thin but strong enough to hold the beef and vegetable pieces inside. Doused with a sweet soy sauce, I loved this dish. Awesome start. Only issue, all the food arrives as soon as it is ready – which is within minutes. Be prepared to chom quickly if you want to eat hot food.
The steamed fresh shrimp dumplings ($24 HKD – $3 AUD) were exceptional. No explanation necessary, but a must order.
These tasted tremendous, but unfortunately the wrapping exploded mid-chom process. The steamed dumpling in chiu chow style ($11 HKD – $1.5 AUD) are best to eat over your bowl. If you are like me, you can ask for soy sauce too – the staff may respond, they may not!
I was over the moon after I sampled a plate of pan fried turnip cakes ($14 HKD – $1.80 AUD). Call me pathetic, but I hadn’t tried these before. They were slightly crispy and lightly oiled, filled with nice shmooshy bites as you ploughed through each cake.
Unquestionably a high-light of the evening were the pan fried green pepper filled with mixed fish ($14 HKD – $1.80 AUD). Thin, fresh pieces of pepper hugged the tightly packed fish. Not only scrumptious, but also a unique offering that I had not come into contact with before. Thumbs up.
The steamed beef ball with bean curd skin ($16 HKD – $2 AUD) were not my favourite dish of the night, not because they weren’t delicious, simply that the other courses stood out more. I was not the biggest fan of the wet bean curd wrapping.
Steamed pork dumpling with shrimp ($24 HKD – $3 AUD) were another stock-standard favourite. Just as good as you will find in fine-dining establishments. Only difference, is that they wouldn’t be stuck together.
The baked buns with BBQ pork ($17 HKD – $2 AUD) were another new dish for me. I am well versed in the standard steamed BBQ buns but not with this alternate element of the frying/baking method. Boy were we happy to try these new treats, and happy enough to order a second helping
The wrapping was sweeter than usual pork buns and crumbled as you bit into the bun. Meanwhile the inside was filled with the typical BBQ goodness. Overall, these made for beautiful parcels of happiness and three each did the trick too.
All in all, Tim Ho Wan is a must go for any foodie looking for a delicious and very cheap yum-cha experience. I mean, seriously $10 AUD per person for 9 courses of exceptional grub? You may be asked to wait in line for hours (but I am told you can put your name down, browse the Ladies Market, and return later to a table) and perhaps be treated with a little dignity. But I believe the pros far outweigh the cons. With 4 locations (or more) dispersed over Hong Kong island and Kowloon, the Tim Ho people have made Michelin standard dining all that more available. Enough typing, more chomming. Enjoy.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Yum Cha /Chinese
Price: $80 HKD / $10 AUD per head
Address: Click here