Occupy Tim Ho Wan
Let me cut to the chase with Tim Ho Wan, there are many many other blogs out there that can give you a detailed play by play description of each dish and what to expect, but I’ll condense it down for you. I had breakfast(which turned into lunch by the time we went in) at the Kwong Wah branch, the original branch with the Michelin star. In the process of queuing for 2 hours and losing my sanity, my friends made the mistake of handing me the menu chit for ordering- They were going to pay for their mistake, I had already decided that I was going to eat as much as I could to make up for all this time I spent standing in line. And so we ate, a lot, in fact, we had a good 75% of the menu. There is a term in weight training called training till failure, where you do enough repetitions of an exercise until you experience momentary muscular failure, our meal at Tim Ho Wan could be summed up as “eating till failure”. The good thing is that I was able to try out a lot of dishes, and here are my thoughts.
It didn’t seem that much on paper
We had to unroll the bill like a scroll
1) Be prepared to wait, unless you manage to be the first batch of people who make it into the restaurant. I’d suggest being there before 9 to make it into the first batch, maybe somewhere around 8.30, you’ll end up waiting a good 2 hours if you show up later anyway.
2) You can do takeaways, which I would recommend. The restaurant is a very very small space and you’ll likely to be elbow to elbow with the person next to you; which could add to the experience of eating dim sum, depending on how you look at it.
3) The food: As you probably already know, the main must have dish would be the cha siew baos, and they are delicious(Very Good). The baos have a rich, sweet, porky cha siew filling, baked with a topping akin to that of a Bo Lo bun, my sis mentioned that she has used a similar(ish) topping on her eclairs, the main components are basically butter, flour and sugar. I’ll save you a trouble and let you know that each person should just get a plate of this(3 pieces), these paos are not for sharing.
Other standout dishes were the osmanthus jelly(good), and the pork-century egg porridge (Good). Everything else was pretty mediocre in my opinion. The har gao and siew mai, staples in dim sum, had a generous amount of filling, but like I said, it wasn’t anything special.
4) The michelin star, I’ll address this later
I’ve got to admit, before I even arrived at the restaurant, I had my reservations about the place, not because of the food they served, but because of the michelin star they were carrying on their back. Touted as the ‘cheapest michelin starred restaurant in the world’, and judging from the lines the restaurant gets, they could easy raise their prices a notch and still have a stream of customers, both local and foreign, but is the restaurant really indicative of what a michelin starred experience should be like?(Granted that they only have a single star)
My last one star experience was back in the States, at Cafe Boulud, and while I didnt have a particularly memorable or stellar meal there, it was miles away from my experience with Tim Ho Wan- the food was much better at Cafe Boulud. Many have discussed and talked about how Michelin have dropped the ball with Hong Kong, first with giving Tim Ho Wan a Michelin star, and then with giving Lung King Heen three. The point I’m trying to drive is not that I didn’t enjoy my meal at Tim Ho Wan, but rather, Tim Ho Wan is not really an accurate representation of a Michelin starred restaurant, and this is important to note, both for those who are seasoned Michelin diners, and those who are about to lose their Michelin virginity to Tim Ho Wan; I will go as far as to say that I don’t believe Tim Ho Wan really deserves a star, even if you discount the service, the ambiance, and everything non-food related, the food simply didn’t do enough to warrant a star; but with that being said, I don’t believe it really needs a star, it has almost reached cult status at this point. If I have convinced you that the Tim Ho Wan star is meaningless, what you should probably do is head over to the Sham Shui Po branch of Tim Ho Wan, I have heard the waiting times are much shorter there, and you can still get the delicious cha siew baos. At least thats what I’ll be doing the next time I’m in Hong Kong.