One of the new Tim Ho Wan locations in Olympian City 2, Hong Kong.

One of the new Tim Ho Wan locations in Olympian City 2, Hong Kong.

A few years ago a story did the rounds of the British newspapers detailing a Hong Kong dim sum canteen boasting the nickname “The cheapest michelin-starred restaurant on earth”. The famed Michelin guide isn’t known for giving out awards casually and waiting times of several hours to get at the treats within seemed to confirm this place wasn’t all hype. I made a mental note that if I ever went to Hong Kong I’d track the place down.

The famous queues at the original location have led to the operation branching out at a rapid rate. Four locations now grace Hong Kong as well as four in Singapore and a new location in Manila. Unfortunately it seems this new business model has seen, according to online reviews, a slight drop in quality. I’m also slightly suspect about the brand “inheriting” it’s michelin starred statues across a chain of restaurants.

I managed to skip the famous queue by both arriving at an unusual time (3pm on a work day) and being a solo diner. The place was still busy inside but being on your own you’ll just be sat anywhere available, including at a table for two with another solo diner. If you turn up in a party of more than 2 I reckon you might be waiting quite a while.

Dim Sum, which means “to touch the heart”, is a popular form of casual dining in the Cantonese parts of China as well as Hong Kong and Macau. It derives from an older dining tradition called Yum Cha, meaning “Drink Tea”, where small snacks were served in road side tea shops and evolved into the broad set of dishes that now come under the name.

The restaurants most famous dish is the Cha Siu Bao (BBQ Pork Buns). About £1.50 gets you three…

BBQ pork buns at Tim Ho Wan.

BBQ pork buns at Tim Ho Wan.

The buns consist of a sweet and sticky pork and BBQ sauce filling wrapped up in a deep fried biscuit like bun with a sweet glazing on top. A bit of challenge to eat with chopsticks but once you bite into the delicious filling you get your reward…

BBQ pork buns at Tim Ho Wan.

BBQ pork buns at Tim Ho Wan.

I’d had high expectations of this place and have to say that that tainted the food a bit. Don’t get me wrong these pork buns are lovely, and incredible value for money, but the hype surrounding this place led me to hope to have my mind blown. It seems, based on discussions on Hong Kong food websites, that these new locations can’t even hold a candle to the now closed original location (a victim of sky rocketing rents in Hong Kong).

I checked out a couple of Tim Ho Wan places over the next few days and here’s a collection of the things I tried;

The Steamed Shrimp dumplings. Pretty good, nice fresh tasting shrimp…

Steamed shrimp dumplings. Tim Ho Wan, Olympian City 2, Hong Kong.

Steamed shrimp dumplings. Tim Ho Wan, Olympian City 2, Hong Kong.

The Vermicelli BBQ pork rolls were something I’ve not tried before. It’s basically a little roll of dumpling covering stuffed with the filling of your choice and drenched in soy sauce. The outer part of the roll was fantastic, almost silken…

Vermicelli  stuffed with BBQ pork, TIm Ho Wan's, Hong Kong.

Vermicelli stuffed with BBQ pork, TIm Ho Wan’s, Hong Kong.

I could spend all day in one of these place to be fair. Tucking into various little plates of Dim Sum whilst reading The Private Life of Chairman Mao was a lovely way to spend a few hours. These deep fried pork dumplings were something quite new to me too. A chewy and crisp out coating with some minced pork and seasoning inside…

Deep fried pork dumplings, TIm Ho Wan's, Hong Kong.

Deep fried pork dumplings, TIm Ho Wan’s, Hong Kong.

This unusual jelly also caught my eye form the menu too, Goji & Kwui Fa flower jelly. A little bit sweet with various pieces suspended in it including a bit of chilli, some berries and other herbs. Very unusual texture and flavour, almost a little bit tarte…

Goji & Kwui Fa flower jelly at Tim Ho Wan.

Goji & Kwui Fa flower jelly at Tim Ho Wan.

In conclusion the dim sum at Tim Ho Wan is far from the best meal I’ve ever eaten, that position is still firmly in the hands of Huset whose 10 course Arctic tasting menu served up in the worlds most northerly fine dining establishment on the Norweign Svalbard archipelago is a fantastic offering.

All that being said you’d definitely find me in a Tim Ho Wan’s if I was in any of the various cities that are home to one. When you factor in the price it is an incredible place to eat.

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