Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tim Ho Wan - Cheapest 1 Star Michelin Restaurant in the World

Note: This is a continuation of our Bali trip.  you can find the full trip itinerary here.

I originally had this grand plan to maximize our one night layover in Hong Kong and made this list of things to do and places to eat. :)

First Night:
Night Market
Drinks at a rooftop hotel/lounge

Next Day:
Breakfast at Australian Dairy Company in Jordan
Walk around Tsim Sha Tsui
Visit Avenue of the Stars / Intercontinental Hong Kong
Lunch at Bo Innovation (or Tim Ho Wan)
Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula Hotel

I know, I know, it's a bit aggressive but I wanted to be prepared. :) Unfortunately, we landed in Hong Kong the day of the Vicente typhoon. Even though I'm from Indonesia, I never really realized that July was not the best time to visit Hong Kong due to the typhoon season. When we got to our hotel, we were advised to not go out of the hotel until 10 am in the morning. That totally crushed basically the first few things on my list. :( Actually, it pretty much ruined all my plans. Since it would be raining most of the day, all outdoor sightseeing plans were not doable anymore.

I learned to just accept the situation, and try to make lemonade out of lemons (is that the right terminology)? I took a couple deep breaths, and went to plan B. That night I went online and searched for activities to do when it rains in Hong Kong, and one of the recommendations was shopping! Turns out there's a shopping mall close by called the IFC Mall which was also the location of Tim Ho Wan, another restaurant on my list.

Since we couldn't go to the Australian Dairy Company for breakfast, we just dined at Momo cafe at the hotel. The breakfast buffet option was 158 HKD per person, which was close to USD 20 per person.

Breakfast at MoMo Cafe

There was quite a few selections such as the typical egg station, bacon, potatoes, pastries, cold cuts, as well as a noodle station and a dim sum station. What really got me excited was this pancake machine where you can just press a button and then the pancake spits out in a minute. It was pretty cool. :) After breakfast we rested for a bit and then headed down to checkout.

I originally planned on having lunch at Bo Innovation, after reading about it from Calvin & Lydia's blog. We got reservations for lunch, and I was really looking forward to it. However, due to the typhoon, the restaurant was actually closed, so the reservation was cancelled and we ended up going to our plan B dim sum place.

I had previously mentioned about how crazy the ordeal was trying to get a spot on the Courtyard shuttle bus to IFC mall. Anyways, since we were not able to take the shuttle, we ended up taking a taxi after about a 20 minute queue. The IFC Mall was actually quite close from our hotel - probably less than 10 minutes and less than HKD 30 ($5 USD) cab fare. As soon as we got to the mall, we went straight to Tim Ho Wan, the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world. I asked the information counter where the restaurant is located, and it's actually somewhat underground on a restaurant row. There was no English sign for the name but I recognized the pictures from Trip Advisor, and the long lines helped confirm that it must be the restaurant.

Menu with pictures

Tim Ho Wan is a dim sum restaurant, which is surprising that it actually got a Michelin star. We could tell from the long lines that food must be good but I was really wondering what made this place get its Michelin star. I put our names down, and the host lady didn't speak English at all. She gave me a Chinese menu with a number written on it. Turns out you can actually ask for an English menu. The hostess yells out numbers in Cantonese, which neither of us understood. What I ended up doing was standing close enough to her where I saw her cross out numbers, and as it got closer to our number, I just showed her our menu. It worked. We probably waited around 30-40 minutes or so. Not bad considering lines at the original Tim Ho Wan location could be around 2 hours.

Clean and crowded

We ordered a couple of dim sum dishes:  siu mai, har gow, cheong fun, as well as their famous BBQ pork bun. The food came out pretty quickly (with the exception of the pork bun).

Look at all those people waiting in line :)

All the food was very good and fresh. We both felt the food was excellent but not that much different than some of our favorite dim sum places in the Bay Area. What was really apparent was how fresh the plates were. The food was brought to our tableas soon as it was cooked and prepared, still steaming hot.

Har Gow
Siu Mai
Cheong Fun

I ordered this next dish because I've never seen it at most dim sum places. It's basically a rice dish with beef and egg. Not bad, but not that special. It tasted exactly how it looks. :)

Beef, Egg & Rice Dish

The BBQ pork bun took longer but it was quite worth the wait. The bun was served fresh from the oven, with a sweet and slightly crunchy bun, and a sweet BBQ pork filling. This dish was probably the star of our meal.

Their famous BBQ Pork Bun

Our total bill was HKD127 (around $15 US). Such an affordable dim sum meal! The total cost was cheaper than one of our breakfast buffets at our hotel! Overall I would recommend this place, and suggest try coming earlier if you can to avoid the rush. If you don't speak Cantonese, make sure you stand by the hostess so you can tell when your turn is. :) There are 2 other locations I believe. The original location supposedly being the best, but with longer wait. I don't know how much better the dim sum could be, but if you want the true experience, you can try going to the original location.

Next Post: Forced Layover Due to Typhoon Vicente

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