HK Eats – Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum Specialists @ Mong Kok, KowloonMay 25, 2011 | 13,024 views
Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum Specialists; loudly hailed as the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. And probably the smallest too.
Let’s get the ball rolling. Highly doubtful that I can finish all the food posts in the very near future, but I shall try my best. And what better way to kick off the gastronomic endeavour than a heavenly (late) lunch of Hong Kong dim sum?
This feisty lady manned the counter; giving away queue numbers while intermittently serving the customers within. Don’t get all jelly-legs, people. She’s a charmer, surprisingly.
And this ‘restaurant’ (if you can even call the premise that) was awarded with an unprecedented ONE Michelin star, a startling choice since fine dining establishments have always had preferential treatment over humble eateries. Granted, this might also be due to the fact that Chef Mak Pui Gor at Tim Ho Wan (literally translated to “Add Good Luck”) came from a 3-starred Lung King Heen himself.
Last I remembered and counted; the place can only seat a crowd of 24 or so. In an elbow-to-elbow, eavesdropping-fiesta manner. Seriously, I could have sneezed and the whole shop would have rattled.
First up, read the following before making your pilgrimage here;
1) Do not come here expecting to waltz in, get seated and tuck in into your dim sum. No sirree. You have to take a number and queue. We came at 2.30pm on a weekday, and was given a number and asked to return in an hour. YES, post-lunch and we still have to waste another hour of parading around Mong Kok. Good thing that there are snacking spots all over the place.
2) Try reaching at odd hours; eg. between meals. They open from 10am until 10pm daily. But if you’re being all smart alec and thought that by going before 10am you can skip the wait, then think again.
Usually Chinese tea is served at restaurants in Hong Kong for washing of utensils and/or for drinking. But here, you don’t get a choice. ONLY pu-erh tea for drinking. So don’t go hoping for Tit Kuan Yin, Jasmine, or such.
3) Do not shout, rush, push or shove. You will get your number, even though the staff is not standing on the outside giving them away. Be patient, grab your ticket and walk around the vicinity. For street food choices around Mong Kok, wait for the upcoming post.
4) If you had missed your number, say because you decided to go back to your hotel, take a nap/shower, or fainted from too much stinky tofu (again, in a future post), don’t wail like a baby. They do honour the skipped numbers. Just be thick-faced and wave your number around when you know that you’ve missed your turn.
Steamed Dumpling in Chiu Chow Style (HKD10/RM4) – A classic Teochew dumpling named ‘Fan Guo’. Filled with crunchy fillings of yambean, chives, peanuts, minced pork and dried shrimps, these reminded me of the local Teochew kueh with either yambean or ‘ku chai’ (Chinese chives) fillings. Verdict : Delicious. A must-try, since this is a rarity for dim sum outlets here.
Steamed Egg Cake aka “Ma Lai Gou” (HKD12/RM4.80) – Fluffy egg cake with a fragrant aroma. Verdict : Not the best that I have come across, but certainly above average. Only if you’re a fan of Ma Lai Gou.
Vermicelli Roll stuffed with Pig’s Liver (HKD15/RM6) – Though the pieces of pig’s liver were good, but this did not justify the die-die must-try trait. Verdict : Skip this, as the steamed rice roll was a thick, sticky layer instead of being smooth and slithers down one’s throat with ease.
Steamed Spare Ribs with Black Bean Sauce (HKD12/RM4.80) – Too much bones, too little meat. Though the steaming hot ribs should be good with speckles or spoonfuls of rice. Verdict : Should have gone for the chicken feet instead?
Pan Fried Dumplings with BBQ Pork and Pumpkin (HKD14/RM5.60) – Arriving piping hot from the pan/wok, these translucent little babies were packed with pieces of BBQ pork (char siew) and sweet, caramelized bits of pumpkin. Verdict : Delicious. Especially when eaten hot, as the slight charred skin underneath gave a crispy touch. And the weird combination of savoury char siew and sweet pumpkin actually worked wonders.
Tonic Medlar & Petal Cake aka “Kwai Fah Gou” (HKD10/RM2.50) – Refreshing end to the meal, the jelly-like dessert was a befitting end. Not cloyingly sweet, the cakes were studded with crunchy bits of wolfberries/medlar. Verdict : Must order. Beats the ones that I have tried in Ipoh hands down.
The Signature Item @ Tim Ho Wan; Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (HKD14/RM5.60) – A cross between Polo bun (Boh Loh Bau), Mexico bun and Char Siew Bao. Creamy savoury fillings of char siew in gravy encased in a crisp, chewy bun resembling glutinous flour dough. Verdict : Good, but slightly over-hyped? Still, do not miss this for the world. After all, they sell up to 750 of these babies each day!
The Menu-cum-Order Chit. Easy enough, as you can pick from the English menu (as above) or the Chinese one. Same price, no worries.
5) Oh, you can grab an order chit from the outside of the shop and pick your dim sum. So you can surrender your order to the staff immediately after being seated. Go crazy on the orders if you want, but bear in mind that your table may not be able to hold all the orders. Ours was barely enough to contain more than 3 baskets!
6) What have we missed? The Lotus Leaf Rice (HKD20/RM8). Our neighbouring patrons were gushing lyrical over theirs, tempting us to grab a bite. But we just could not afford to stuff ourselves anymore. The Steamed Beef Balls with bean curd skin (HKD12/RM4.80) is supposed to be good too.
This was before 10.00am. These people were queuing up on a weekday morning. Do you believe the hype now?
Overall, the meal costs HKD91/RM36.40. Dirt cheap by Hong Kong’s standards, and reasonable enough to be on par with some of Malaysia’s dim sum outlets. And you get the bragging rights of having eaten in a one Michelin star restaurant before in your life.
TIM HO WAN DIM SUM SPECIALISTS
Shop 8, Tsui Yuen Mansion,
2-20, Kwong Wa Street,
Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Tel No : 2332 2896
Google Map of Hong Kong Food
How to get here? Exit from MTR Yau Ma Tei A2 exit, or MTR Mong Kok E2 exit then walk towards Dundas street. If you’re around Mong Kok’s famous stretch of streets (Sai Yeung Choi, Tung Choi aka Ladies Street, Fa Yuen street), then just walk to the southern ends of any and you’re good to go.