Tim Ho Wan is cheap. By Western standards its even dead cheap. A meal for two, drinks included can set you back as little as HKD 120. Combine this with the fact that it has a Michelin star and you have probably the only starred restaurant of this price range; in the world.
However, its not all that rosy here, for once you have cheap food with such prestigious accolades, you get a lot of people who are interested in the restaurant. This is exactly what happens here. Come to Tim Ho Wan at 9.30h in the morning and you might have a chance to get in with the first bunch (the restaurant opens at 10h). Be fifteen minutes late and you’ll have a jolly good 1.5hrs of waiting time until you will be able to sit down. In addition, don’t come with more than 4 people, as you will be sent away to their second outpost. And as a matter of fact, don’t even bother coming much later than 10h during the weekend, you might risk waiting for 3-4hrs.
So, that’s it for the rules of the game at the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. If that doesn’t put you off, and you finally get to sit down in this very ordinary looking room (most tables are shared), you will have various dishes to choose from. Most cost around HKD 12-19, which really is quite cheap considering the food you get. What has to be said first up is that for the money, this is a very good restaurant.
There aren’t all that many places in the world, which can serve you such good food at such a low price. However, considering it has a star, which places like Yan Toh Heen, Din Tai Fung or others have too you might be slightly disappointed. Most of it is good, but uninspiring. There are one or two exceptions to this rule however, one being really outstanding. The outstanding one would be the cha sui buns, which nearly could pass as desserts. Yeasty, sweet, savoury and rich, these little buns are stunning. Probably not very healthy, they taste as good as they get. It’s probably the only thing here that really is worth the wait, but then again it really is worth it.
Very good too are the deep-fried meat “croquettes” (for lack of a better translation). They are as good as pretty much anywhere else. Perhaps the filling is a bit stingy in its proportions, but apart from that it’s a delicious bite. The har gau are delicate, filled with tiny shrimp that are quite flavourful. And the chicken feet are not to complain about either.
So, the big question is, does a meal at Tim Ho Wan warrant a few hours waiting? Yes and no. It’s a surreal experience and makes you earn your lunch that much is for sure. There is that stunning roast pork bun and the very relaxed pricing. But the rest, well the rest is good, but not outstanding. However, if you come to Hong Kong, this place has become part of the must-visit places, and luckily enough it at least serves good food, unlike Yung Kee.