This is the thirty-third post in the Around the World Birthday Extravaganza Series. Please scroll to the bottom to see all the other posts in this series.
In 2009, a chef from Hong Kong's 3-Michelin starred restaurant Lung King Heen, Mak Kwai-pui, decided to open up his own restaurant in Hong Kong's Mongkok region. Called Tim Ho Wan, this restaurant soon became one of the most popular dim sum spots on Hong Kong. Lines were notoriously long (they don't take reservations).
In 2010, Tim Ho Wan received one Michelin star and immediately became known as the one of the cheapest Michelin starred meals one could eat worldwide.
Tim Ho Wan soon expanded to five additional locations throughout Hong Kong. In the latest (just released!) 2017 Michelin guide, two of these five locations received one Michelin star, which is pretty remarkable (North Point and Sham Shui Po).
We ended up visiting the location in Central, right at a large train station, which is probably one of the most convenient locations to visit. It had a line (though not too bad before 12PM), and the food was excellent. I still have yet to try dim sum at an official Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan, so I can't compare, but this place was quite, quite good.
For first time visitors, they have what they called the "Big Four Heavenly King" Items, essentially what they consider the must-get items on the menu. We had tried all four of these our first time at Tim Ho Wan, in Singapore. I've described them all below, blending together photos from this current trip and our Singapore trip (explaining why I didn't order certain things a second time).
Big Four Heavenly King Item #1: Baked Bun with BBQ Pork
THIS, my friends, is the main reason to come here. Their Baked Bun with BBQ Pork ($21 HKD for 3 / ~$3 USD) is phenomenal and way better than any bun I've ever had in the States (though there are equally if not better ones in Hong Kong). I love the texture of the shell, which is a bit flaky, crumbly, and sweet. It's like a mix between a Cantonese polo bun and a charsiu bao. The sugar encrusted top is amazing.
The filling is also refined, with finely minced pieces of pork and vegetables. You won't find any fatty pork pieces, gristle, or any of those other textural annoyances here. Better yet, instead of using artificial coloring to make the interior look red (which is done virtually everywhere else), Tim Ho Wan uses red rice.
Big Four Heavenly King Item #2: Steamed Rice Roll with Barley and Pig's Liver
We had tried Vermicelli roll stuffed with liver, an unusual take on a Cantonese classic, in Singapore. Although Bryan loved it, I did not like it as much because the liver taste was quite strong. I suggested we order a different filling instead.
This time, we tried the classic Steamed Rice Rolls with Shrimp and Chive ($30 HKD / ~ $3.90 USD), which was delicious.
Big Four Heavenly King Item #3: Pan Fried Turnip Cake
The Pan Fried Turnip Cakes ($16 HKD / ~ $2 USD), pan fried until crispy, had great flavor and were on par with other good dim sum restaurants. The flavors were nice, and the cakes were very soft.
Big Four Heavenly King Item #4: Steamed Egg Cake
The steamed sponge-like cake has a dark, caramelized richness that comes from the brown sugar. The cake is super soft, moist, and not too sweet. We chose not to get it this time because we didn't feel like having sweets at lunchtime. However, I would highly recommend trying it if it's your first visit.
We tried some other dishes that were not part of the "Big Four Heavenly King" items, such as as these excellent Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumplings ($30 HKD / ~ $3.90 USD).
The Deep Fried Spring Roll with Shrimp and Corn ($30 HKD / $3.90 USD) were executed well and tasty.
Similarly, Steamed Bean Curd Skin Rolls filled with Egg and Tomato ($28 HKD / ~ $3.60 USD) was another satisfying vegetarian dish that was flavorful and very good.
All in all, this is a great place to get a quick, delicious, dim sum meal. I can understand the appeal of the concept, and can totally see why it has been so successful everywhere it has opened. As of 2016, there are at least 12 other branches that have opened throughout Asia and Australia, including in Singapore, Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Word has it that a New York location is planned for the end of 2016 (!).
Within Hong Kong, there are many, many places to get excellent dim sum. Although this location's dim sum was very good, there are equally good (if not better) versions of certain dishes else where in the city (e.g., we found an even better BBQ pork bun at another dim sum place). Nevertheless, it's still clearly one of the best, seeing how popular it is (and how few dim sum places actually earned a Michelin star). The food is great and I would not hesitate to come back. It has a solid formula for excellent dim sum at a very reasonable price.
Tim Ho Wan Hong Kong (Central)
Shop 12A Hong Kong Station
(Podium Level 1 IFC Mall)
All Posts In This Series
Around the World Birthday Extravaganza
Alba White Truffle Fair
Osteria Dei Sognatori - A Traditional Piedmontese Dinner
Italy Wine Tour - Barbaresco
Lunch at Donna Selvatica in Neive, Italy
Dinner at a Truffle Hunter's Inn - Tra Art e Querce
Trattoria Della Posta in Montfort D'Alba
Nighttime Truffle Hunting with a Dog in Alba
Osteria della Arco - last dinner in Alba
Stunning Images of La Morra and Barolo, Italy
First Day In Bordeaux, France - Une Cuisine en Ville
Chateau Haut-Brion Tour in Bordeaux France
Restaurant Le St. James
Touring Bordeaux Wineries - Day 1 - Left Bank
La Tupina, Bordeaux (traditional French dinner)
Cos d'Estournel Tour
Touring Bordeaux - Pauillac, Chateau Lynch-Bages
A Different Paris
Le Relais de l'Entrecote
Hiking at Mount Takao in Japan
Rokurinsha ramen breakfast (六厘舎)
Nakameguro Iguchi yakitori (中目黒いぐち)
Shirohige's Cream Puff Factory - Totoro Cream Puff
Fu Sing Seafood Restaurant Hong Kong