Whether you’re a food lover or not, chances are you’ve heard of Michelin star restaurants and if, like me, your wallet doesn’t have a never-ending supply of money, you’ve probably avoided them. I mean, who really can afford to eat in Michelin star restaurants? The great answer is, everyone can!
During our recent visit to Hong Kong, we took the opportunity to visit Tim Ho Wan’s dim sum restaurant – aka the cheapest Michelin Star restaurant in the world.
I first visited the original branch in Mongkok back in early January 2013. It was a tiny little place with people queuing outside. Finding a table for 6 people was nearly impossible and we ended up sitting in two groups. Tim Ho Wan has since expanded, now with several locations all over Hong Kong and even in Singapore and Malaysia.
We decided to visit the North Point branch this time, probably only a 5-10 minute walk from where we were staying (but with our, or should I say my, lack of direction it took us a little longer). We spent a while looking for Wharf Road only to find the road actually only appeared to start just outside of the restaurant… But fear not, when you are near the restaurant you’ll notice a large crowd outside a window. That’s how you’ll know you’ve arrived (that was the case at lunch time on a Sunday at least).
Don’t be put off by the large queue. As a party of two we were seated fairly quickly (within about 10 minutes). When you arrive, simply tell the lady outside how many seats you want, she’ll hand you a menu with a number on it, and then you wait. She was shouting numbers in Cantonese and Mandarin, but rarely in English. Just keep in her sight and when she she’s it’s your number she’ll shuffle you in. While you’re waiting, take the opportunity to browse the menu and select which dishes you want. The way to order dim sum is to order a few different dishes for everyone to share. We didn’t know how many to order but figured we’d best over order in order to make the most of it.
There’s a compulsory fee of HK$3 per person for the tea, so enjoy it! We made sure to try the BBQ pork buns as we were well aware it’s one of the chain’s specialities – and we weren’t disappointed. There are a lot of steamed buns in mainland China, but what made these ones special is that they were baked. Delicious!
It’s fair to say we had more than our fair share of food and left the restaurant feeling absolutely stuffed. Even though a portion of dumplings “only” includes three dumplings, or the beancurd skin with meat and vegetables “only” includes three meatballs, they are the biggest dumplings and balls you’re likely to ever find on your plate (or steaming basket as the case may be).
Our bill came to a total of HK$94 (approx £8.50) which I’m sure most would agree is a pretty good deal for two in Hong Kong (or anywhere!). I don’t recall any drinks other than the tea being served, but there’s a 711 a couple of doors down and they had no problem with people bringing in their own beverages.
Now, I have no idea what makes Michelin star food “Michelin star food” and having spent a reasonable amount of time in mainland China, I’ve eaten a lot of very tasty food. Cantonese food tends to be a lot more tame in flavour compared to the spicy explosion of flavours in Sichuan. That being said, this food was delicious and was probably one of the cheapest meals out we had in Hong Kong! Can’t complain with that. Also, it’s fun to say you’ve been to a Michelin star restaurant.
I’d recommend anyone to go. Maybe people with a bit more food knowledge will be able to tell you why the star, or if the star, is deserved. But I can tell you, it was a tasty, and very affordable, meal in the heart of Hong Kong. Can’t complain about that!