There is something about great food that transcends differences and connects people. Of course, the fat kid within also just loves eating, but truly spectacular cuisine can be life changing. When I was in Hong Kong, an old basketball teammate suggested that I check out Tim Ho Wan, the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant. Let me preface this by saying that while I stay true to my Chinese nature and am always enticed by “cheap”, I love dimsum as if it were my first born child. I would probably eat it for every meal for the rest of my life if given the option. Heck, I would probably even consider sacrificing a limb for a great dimsum meal. That being said, the combination of “cheap” and “dimsum” wasn’t exactly the most promising; cheap can be great, but I spare no expense when it comes to dimsum. The redeeming factor here was that it was a Michelin star restaurant. Jimmy and I figured it was at least worth a shot.
We had read notorious stories of three to four hour waits for the place (appx. the size of my living room), so first thing in the morning, we hopped in a cab to the restaurant for a ticket number. The sweet lady at the front (who could obviously tell that I didn’t speak a lick of Cantonese) told me that we were welcome to come back anytime before 3PM. Even if they passed our number, they’d bump us to the top when we returned. Since we’re both impatient (and fat kids), we grabbed headed to Causeway Bay for a quick bite and to get a blazer tailored. Around 2PM we returned to Tim Ho Wan for our second dimsum meal of the day. Like I said… fat kids. Excited fat kids.
The ordering process began before we even sat down. They give you a checklist as you stand outside and you simply mark which dishes you want. Jimmy and I ended up ordering 18 dishes between the two of us. Yes. Eighteen. There was a point when the bamboo steamers were stacked so high we couldn’t see one another. Our fellow patrons laughed and the waitresses clucked in disapproval every time they brought yet another plate. Even the people waiting outside pointed from the other side of the glass and gasped their disbelief. Judge all you want, but we had the best meal of our entire trip to HK that day. Fat kids are happy kids.
I won’t go into naming each dish or describing them all, but with the exception of a cod and rice bowl we ordered, everything was unbelievable. Just the right amount of chewiness and tenderness. An impeccable balance of salty and sweet. Nothing was too spicy or too mild. And definitely never dry. Steaming fresh, but not once did I burn my tongue. Just… perfect.
Now the one dish I do have to point out is their Char Siu Bao. Unlike the traditional steamed bun, these ones at Tim Ho Wan resemble the pineapple buns you can find in most Chinese bakeries. Similar to a pastry, its outsides (which crumble) are slightly sweet. The insides are a combination of salty sweet char siu sauce. Many restaurants overdo the sauce and make it sickly sweet. Others make the meat too dry. As a result, I’ve never really like char siu too much, but these were mind-blasting. Jimmy originally ordered twelve for himself and I think I ended up stealing half of them. Editing these photos alone made me drool all over my keyboard.
Ready for the best part of it all? Our meal came out to a little over 200HKD, or $40 for the both of us. $40!!! Best damn $40 I’ve ever spent in my entire life. If you find yourself in Hong Kong, I highly recommend taking a morning and heading out to Tim Ho Wan in Kowloon. Here, here and here are some more reviews of the restaurant to give you a balanced perspective. Since I can’t be there to enjoy such scrumptiousness, please eat in my stead. xoxo
Tim Ho Wan
2-20 Kwong Wa Street
Kowloon, Hong Kong