Touted by the media as one of the best places to have Dim Sum locally, Tim Ho Wan is a humble 40 seater Yum Cha restaurant started by Chef Man Pui Gor who had once honed his skills in Hong Kong’s only other three Michelin Starred restaurant, Lung Hing Keen. Queues had been known to have been reportedly long and ridiculous at this eatery which had been awarded a prestigious Michelin star in 2010, where queuing times have been claimed to be easily 2-2.5 hours, with people reportedly going as early as 7am to be at the front of the queue. The ideology of going 3 hours before the restaurant opened definitely sounds ridiculous. Still the trip to Hong Kong would definitely not be complete without having a meal at one of the country’s best institutions for dim sum. Upon Hung’s recommendation, we decided to patronize Tim Ho Wan later in the night around 8+, a good 1-2 hours before closing. Fortunately the queuing time of an hour seemed rather acceptable, considering the whole family had made the entire way from Hong Kong Island, and the ladies were willing to wait considering ladies street was only next door hahaha. Getting to the restaurant is pretty simple using any given maps, where the sight of sprawling crowds and a horde of motorcycles gives clear indication that we had arrived at our intended destination.
The entrance of the restaurant was definitely a chaotic site, where clusters of people hurriedly waved and attempted to get one of the service staff’s attention in order to a queue number, resulting in the lady herself getting really flustered and agitated at the same time. Oh and it definitely helps if one speaks Cantonese as the whole lot of us were rather fortunate to have waited for around 40 minutes or so. An order chit is presented before entering the restaurant, where the orders are done the traditional way through writing numbers with the use of a pencil then presenting it to the service staff upon entering. For a Michelin institution, prices are kept extremely low, with respective dishes ranging from HKD$10-22, and Chinese tea came as a cover charge of a few dollars.
The Restaurant Signatures
Cha Siew Sou(HKD$12)
The first dish served was Tim Ho Wan’s best seller, the barbecued pork bun. Instead of being steamed the conventional way, the worth dying for buns are deep fried. The result? A delicate sugar glaze around the crisp and flaky pastry which is filled with a decadent mixture of barbecued pork and sweet sauce. Only 750 of these are made freshly daily, and its no surprise why they sell out all the time.
Steamed shrimp cheung fun (HKD$19)
Har Gow (HKD$22)
Siew Mai (HKD$22)
The must haves in any dim sum meal, all three dim sum staples were executed excellently and hard to fault. The vermicelli rice rolls had a wafer thin texture and translucent consistency that enclosed generous fresh and succulent chunks of shrimp, complemented excellently by the savory sauce pour on the dish tableside. The Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) had a seamless exterior as never before have I had one which had the most amazing of textures and consistency that gave enough bite yet wasn’t too thick or soggy. The Siew Mai ( Steamed Pork Dumplings ) that were topped with a whole piece of shrimp instead of being minced into the meat mixture were thoroughly enjoyable.
Pan Fried Radish Cake (HKD$12)
The radish cake was lauded as one of the best dishes of meal, which definitely came as a surprise considering the simplicity of the dish. The exterior of the cakes had a wonderful caramelization, resulting in a delightful wok hei flavor, along with evident chunks of radish infused in a rich and flavorful piece of cake with a pretty insane savory flavor.
Steamed Spare Ribs with Black Beans (HKD$12)
Another dim sum staple, petite pieces of pork ribs that were steamed to fall of the bone tender, along with the saltiness of the black bean sauce that really brought out the natural flavors of the pork.
Chicken Feet (HKD$12)
I didn’t get to try the chicken feet, actually I didn’t dare to eat it hahaha, but the response was generally positive from the others.
Fried Noodles (HKD$12)
Steamed Beef Balls (HKD$14)
Custard Buns ($HKD12)
If there were some dishes that didn’t quite make the cut during the nearly perfect dim sum experience, there were certainly some black sheep among the herd. The Fried noodles which had a delightful qq texture were let down by the bland flavor overall. The steamed beef balls also turned out to be lacking in basic seasoning, as the shreds of beancured skin failed to enhance the dish, which was definitely a pity, considering how tender the beef balls were. The custard buns turned out to be different from the salted yolk custard buns found in most restaurants with a solidified interior which tasted really average.
Final thoughts? There is no doubt that quality of dim sum served at Tim Ho Wan is top notch, where everyone found the meal extremely satisfying and enjoyable, sweetened by the fact that the bill came up to slightly less than SGD$10 per person considering each pair shared a good 8 dishes. I’ve somewhat come to reiterating my stand that good things are worth queuing for, where Tim Ho Wan justifies it by making top quality dim sum affordable to the masses. After all, good food is meant to be shared yeah? 8.5/10
Sidenote: Tim Ho Wan has reportedly opened a second outlet at Sham Shui Po in IFC mall, although many had proclaimed that the quality of the dim sum served there is not quite up to standard compared to the original outlet in Mongkok. A trip to Lung Hing Keen beckons the next time around, with the clear purpose of comparing the quality of dim sum served in both institutions only, lest all the other extravagances.
Tim Ho Wan
8 Kwong Wa Street, Mongkok, Kowloon (+852 2332 2896)