After working at the three Michelin star Lung King Heen, Mak Pui Gor ventured out on his own and opened up a tiny hole-in-the-wall dim sum joint in Mong Kok. While the original location is now closed, they’ve expanded to five locations across Hong Kong and multiple locations across Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Not long after opening the first location in 2009, Tim Ho Wan earned one Michelin star in 2010. The chain now bills itself as the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant. I don’t doubt the accuracy of this statement. Our entire meal was only 148HKD or around $25 CAD.
Since Mike and I were staying near Central, we dropped by the IFC location which is conveniently located at Hong Kong Station. They don’t take reservations so expect to wait. We originally wanted to get there around opening at 9am but we had some trouble finding it. It’s actually located in the basement of the building. But once you exit the elevators, you’ll know you’re at the right place when you see a giant crowd.
Put your name down and start filling out an order form. They’ll take it before you’re seated so once you take your seats, the food will come shortly after. They’re very efficient here so despite the large crowd, the wait won’t be too long. The crowd is also deceivingly large since many people were waiting for take-out. If you’re in a rush, grab some dim sum to-go!
The space is relatively clean and the chairs are tightly packed. You’ll likely be sitting at one of the long communal tables in the middle of the restaurant.
Since you put in your order prior to being seated, the food arrives almost immediately after you sit down. First up was the Steamed Glutinous Rice wrapped in a lotus leaf (aka “lor mai gai”). Stuffed with chicken, Chinese sausage and black mushrooms, this was a pretty solid dish but nothing life changing.
Up next was the Steamed Rice Roll with Beef. The rice noodles were silky smooth and the beef filling was tasty. Top it with some sweet soy sauce and you’ve got a delicious bite!
Other standard dim sum dishes we ordered included the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (aka “har gow”) which comes with four per order. The thin translucent skin encased a small bit of shrimp. They weren’t very plump and frankly were a little sad looking. Taste-wise, they did the trick.
We also ordered Steamed Pork Dumplings with Shrimp (aka “siu mai”). Similar to the shrimp dumplings, I was surprised by how small they were. And also like the shrimp dumplings, they were good but not memorable.
The one thing you MUST get at Tim Ho Wan is an order (or two!) of Baked Buns with BBQ Pork which comes with three per order. Everyone raves about these buns and I’m happy to report that they lived up to all the hype.
With a sweet crumbly topping (similar to a pineapple bun), the fluffy bun encased a delicious BBQ pork filling. A perfect sweet and savoury combination! When we had this, I thought it was the best version I’ve had to date…until we subsequently visited Lung King Heen.
The last thing we ordered was the Steamed Egg Cake. It’s definitely not what you expect when you hear the word “cake”. You won’t find a thick coat of icing here. Desserts in Asia tend to be much lighter and lower in sugar content. The steamed egg cake was incredibly light and had a very mild sweetness which I really enjoyed.
So, what’s the verdict? While the baked bbq pork buns lived up to the hype, the rest of the dishes weren’t quite as memorable. Next time, I’d just get a box of the buns to-go!
At a glance:
- Brought to us by Mak Pui Gor who previously worked at Lung King Heen
- Opened up the original store in Mong Kok which earned a Michelin star in 2010
- The original location no longer exists but the restaurant has expanded throughout Asia with five locations in Hong Kong (we visited the IFC location)
- Bills itself as ‘the world’s cheapest Michelin restaurant’
- The baked buns with bbq pork lived up to the hype but the rest of the dim sum wasn’t as memorable
- No reservations; expect to wait
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 3 stars
- Service: 2 stars
- Atmosphere: 2 stars