Hong Kong is full of good restaurants, particularly chinese restaurants but among them there was one that is unanimously dubbed as a “must” – and that is Tim Ho Wan. “The cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world” is actually part of a dim sum restaurant chain originating in Hong Kong, with three of its branches receiving the acclaimed star. It was opened in 2009 by chef Mak Pui Gor, formerly of the 3 Michelin starred restaurant Lung King Heen (where we also had a chance to dine in). Tim Ho Wan rapidly expanded and currently has branches in Australia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and soon even New York.
We arrived at the restaurant at 16:00 fearing a long wait at the door, following everything we read online about the places’ lunch-rush. To our pleasant surprise there was no line at all! In fact, the place had but a few tables occupied. It seems that just after lunch and before dinner is a great time to get there.
Ordering in Tim Ho Wan is different than what you’re accustomed to in other Michelin star restaurants. As you are seated you receive a form with all the menu items listed. To order you check off the items you’re interested in and hand it off to the waiter. To help you out with the choice the placemat displays popular dishes along with their picture.
We ordered 3 dishes from the “Big 4 Heavenly King Dim Sum” and some others which sounded interesting.
Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (20HKD / $2.5 / 10₪)
These signature pork buns are absolutely delicious. The buns were soft and sweet with a moist, juicy BBQ filling. We devoured them so fast that we simply had to order seconds. It’s worth coming to Tim Ho Wan for this dish alone.
Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumplings (27HKD / $3.5 / 13.5₪)
Pan Fried Turnip Cake (15HKD / $2 / 7.5₪)
This was not to our liking mostly because of Its gelatin-like texture. It also lacked flavor and when we tried adding the slightly spicy sauce that it came with the result was even worse.
Steamed Egg Cake (16HKD / $2 / 8₪)
Soft and airy, this egg cake was absolutely delicious and can definitely work as a dessert.
Vermicelli Rolls Stuffed with Shrimp (26HKD / $3.5 / 13₪)
Another favorite of ours. Soft rolls generously filled with meaty shrimp bites and marinated in sweet sauce. Yum.
Deep Fried Dumplings Filled with Pork (15HKD / $2 / 7.5₪)
These had a different filling then the pork bun. Although deep fried the dumplings don’t feel slimy and oily. They had a soft and crunchy texture and generally were much less sweet than the BBQ buns.
Steamed Rice Flour Roll Stuffed with Scallop (26HKD / $3.5 / 13₪)
This dish felt like a weak echo of the shrimp vermicelli. The roll is the same but the scallop wasn’t as flavorful as the shrimp.
While Tim Ho Wan’s food is mostly great, it’s a little curious as a Michelin star restaurant. For example, as you approach the restaurant you are greeted by a sign on the door which says “DON’T TOUCH”. In addition, there are no toilets in the restaurant. If you need to use the facilities, you have to exit the restaurant and make your way to the public toilets in the Olympics mall behind it. The whole time we were there, a maintenance man cleaned out the air conditioning filters above our adjacent table, sending dust and debris flying. All of these small things, plus the atmosphere in the place definitely signals that regardless of the Michelin star, this place is much more low brow than you might expect. While hailed as the “cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world”, perhaps a better description would be “a tasty, cheap restaurant which happens to have a Michelin star“. To be fair, though, we paid a total of 181HKD ($23.5 / 90₪) for a huge amount of quality food!
Protip – Tim Ho Wan is located on the outside of Olympics 3 mall, so if you wish to avoid the stifling Hong Kong heat and humidity while getting here, you have the option to walk inside the mall from Olympic MTR station until you reach the exit closest to the restaurant.
Tim Ho Wan Online: