In 2009, chef Mak Kwai-Pui, a former chef at a three-star Michelin restaurant in Hong Kong, opened the Chinese dim sum restaurant called Tim Ho Wan alongside chef Leung Fai Keung. Not long after, Tim Ho Wan earned its own Michelin star and is self-proclaimed as “the world’s most inexpensive awarded dim sum restaurant.”
Currently, Tim Ho Wan has 46 restaurants spread out in nine different countries with two locations in New York City: Hell’s Kitchen and the East Village. Accredited as being affordable and worthy of a Michelin star, I expected decent service and delicious food. However, I found the restaurant was lacking in both.
Dim sum restaurants are widely enjoyed by Hongkongers for their affordability and family-style dining experience. I expected to be greeted with warm smiles, fast service and attentive servers, but the staff at Tim Ho Wan acted like they didn’t want to be there. After I was seated, none of the servers came around to check up on my table or take my order for 20 minutes.
Sadly, given the price, the food was not worth the wait. The texture of the meat in the siu mai was tender and the shrimp was succulent. However, both of these dim sum staples needed to be accompanied with some soy sauce or chili oil to make up for the lack of flavor. Tim Ho Wan charges $6 for the same dish you can find for better prices and larger portions in Chinatown.
The roasted pork bun was the only dish that seemed to be worth the visit. The contrast of textures between the flaky, crispy top and the chewy soft bun was sublime. The savoriness from the pork filling complemented the sweet, flaky top well.
If you ever feel the urge to go to Tim Ho Wan, it’s worth checking off you foodie bucket list. However, if you are looking for a good dim sum meal that won’t break the bank, I would look into Golden Unicorn and Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown.
A version of this article appears in the Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, print edition. Email Matthew Kang at [email protected]