Surprisingly enough, Easter is a popular holiday in Hong Kong. Everyone is given off Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday– although most people couldn’t tell you what happens on those days. Instead, most people spend this glorious 4-day weekend traveling to nearby countries, or buying tons of Easter gifts and chocolate for their families.
Instead of indulging on Easter buffets, chocolate bunnies or egg-dying workshops, Johnny and I decided our celebration would be going out for brunch. And this wasn’t just any brunch, this was dim sum at the famous Tim Ho Wan (添好運).
Known as the “World’s Cheapest Michelin Star Restaurant”, Tim Ho Wan, is a must-try for anyone visiting Hong Kong.
The original location was in Mong Kok, but it was kind of a hole-in-the-wall place. Often people could only find the building based on the long queue outside. Inside featured small stools and plain white walls–but hey, people are here to focus on the food, right? Despite the small, inconspicuous location and the overwhelming popularity, the original store was recently forced to move due to a soaring increase in rent (a problem many restaurants and shops face in Hong Kong).
A few other branches were left open, such as the ones in Sham Shui Po and IFC in Central. But fortunately for us, the original store has finally reopened and in a location right down the street!
We had been wanted to try Tim Ho Wan for a while now, but no matter which location or what time of day we’d go, there was always at least an hour wait. All of the shops are generally small with only around 20 seats, and people begin lining up even an hour before the shop opens to secure a table. It is not uncommon to wait over 3 hours in order to eat this food.
There were groups of people waiting outside as usual when we arrived, but we decided it would be worth the wait.
We were given our number and then left to run a few errands before returning to wait some more. Luckily we were only a few numbers away so we had just enough time to fill out our yellow order slip before our number was called!
If you go, make sure you fill your order form out before getting a table. Since it’s always so busy, they like to get people in and out as quick as possible!
The choices at Tim Ho Wan are limited, only about 30 items, yet we found ourselves ordering a lot more than what we’d normally order for dim sum. They only have one choice of tea, pu-erh 普洱, which is luckily my favorite!
When we went inside, even more people were waiting for their table to be ready. I immediately noticed that the seating and decorations of this location were much nicer than the original shop; and that this is also their largest shop.
Chefs were quickly preparing orders as soon as they arrived to insure quality of taste and freshness.
And as soon as the chefs were done making it, waitresses rushed past as blurs delivering the food to the proper tables.
It wasn’t before long that our own food started to arrive, even though we had only sat down a few minutes prior. From first impression, everything looked very soft and moist– fresh out of the steamer.
The food was so fresh, that it was hard to touch the bamboo steamers to rearrange the table because they were too hot. But before I could even begin to eat what was in front of me, more food had arrived.
And more. The waitresses rushed by stacking more and more bamboo steamers on top of one another.
We ended up ordering a total of 9 (!!!) different dishes. Our normal is usually only 3, or sometimes 4.
In the end, I would classify the food into 3 categories: “the best I’ve had”, “pretty standard“, and “lacking“. There was nothing that was downright bad– just things I didn’t personally care for.
Want to know which foods fit into those categories or what foods you should definitely order? Since this post is getting rather long already, you can read Part II of my Tim Ho Wan experience here!
I will say that overall I think the Michelin Star is well deserved, and the wait well worth it. It was certainly the best dim sum I’ve had in Hong Kong so far, and I hope to return again soon.