As I grew up in Hong Kong I never felt the need to seek out good food in Hong Kong when visiting, but this trip I decided to play the tourist card. I jumped on almighty Google and found the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant; Tim Ho Wan dim sum specialty restaurant. Phil from I’ll have what Phil’s having also raved about this place a lot when he was in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s version of Yelp is called Open Rice, directly translated means it’s time to eat, very fitting as Asians love to eat. The reviews I found were on both extremes, some loved it, and others hated it with the most common complaint being how bad the service was. Unlike Canada, good service is a bonus and not a must at most food establishments in Hong Kong. Unless you’re paying big bucks at fancy restaurants you’re almost guaranteed bad service, so the question you have to ask yourself is where you draw the line.
Tim Ho Wan has three locations- Sham Shiu Po, Central and Olympic City with Sham Shui Po being their oldest establishment. Based on the reviews of all three I picked Sham Shui Po. FYI – Olympic City got the worst reviews for their service.
We got there around 1:30 pm on a weekday and there a small group huddled outside, we put our name down and waited for about 10-15 minutes during which we efficiently grabbed an order form and checked off our order. Tim Ho Wan doesn’t seat you till your entire party is present, so make sure they are when putting your name down. *No Bob you can’t go get a drink around the corner, you have to wait right here*
Felt more like a cha chun teng (local Hong Kong style café) than a dim sum restaurant. Turn-over is very high and everyone there seems to know the drill. As you’re lead to your table you hand the server your order form and she returns with the bill. Spotted quite a lot of tourists too as this place is talked about extensively on Trip Advisor. Even spotted one tripping over the red and black anti-slip mat that locals seem to instinctively know is there without even seeing it.
The food… the food was mediocre at best with the exception of their freshly baked sow pei char siu boa (flakey pastry pork buns). Don’t get me wrong the rest of the dim sum wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t spectacular either. Definitely did not live up to the hype.
I didn’t find the service to be too bad. You ordered, they brought you food. When you were done they came to clear your table and you went to pay. Simple. Quick. The servers weren’t rude, but they weren’t friendly either.
Now I’ve never been to other Michelin star restaurants so I don’t know the price range, but I’m going to guess it’s not cheap. There were four of us and we ordered about 8 dishes which came out to $268 HKD!! What a deal! Seriously!