I had compiled a list of restaurants to eat at, at the advice of @supercharz and Catty, who had visited recently. One place I was dying to try was Tim Ho Wun, a 30 seater Michelin starred dim sum restaurant that did not take bookings and was famed for it's long queues and bargain prices.
We came here on our penultimate day with some trepidation; everyone we had previously met up with, residents of Hong Kong, had never heard of it. Even taxi drivers my mother asked looked somewhat baffled. We arrived at 9am and there wasn't a queue to be seen. It didn't open till 10am, so we sat ourselves strategically at the tea shop next door, slurping up hot milk tea and slowly melting into a puddle of sweat in the humidity. Sure enough, a queue started to form and we leapt from our plastic stools, pleased as punch to be second in line. 40 minutes later, we were in.
Baked char siu bun with a sweet topping, or more commonly known as 'polo char siu bao', was a balance of sweet and salty. The sweet topping had a great crust giving way to flaky pastry and char siu, great chunks of it.
'Loh bak goh', or turnip cake was expertly made. Wibbly wobbly, soft and very delicate, it had none of the glueyness that most have; it seemed like it was made with minimal flour and maximum daikon / mooli. Globules of it slipped off my chopsticks as I tried to greedily shovel it in.
Steamed rice with pork and dried shrimp was drizzled with soy sauce on serving and was so good we had to order another, this time with beef and topped with an egg.
Cheung fun (rice noodle) stuffed with beef and another serving filled with prawns were silky smooth and probably the best version I've had to date. I was only disappointed that they didn't have the version stuffed with fried dough stick. Har gao and siu mai, those staples of dim sum meals were also expertly made and drew gasps of appreciation from us all.
Beef balls, usually an unappetising grey were nicely pink and bouncy, retaining a great flavour with juiciness. Dipped in Worcester sauce for an added tang, these were one of my favourite.
Teochow dumplings, filled with peanuts and crunchy green vegetables were far superior version to the ones I've tried before. The skins, which can sometimes be sticky and gelatinous were thin and silky, contrasting nicely with the crunch within.
Stuffed to the brim, our waitress urged us to try their desserts, said to be the restaurant's speciality. Jelly cubes filled with berries and herb-like strands were pleasant enough but had a hint of chlorine about it.
Far tastier was the black truffle milk pudding. Truffles are something I associate more with European dishes, but it worked well here. The earthiness of the truffle worked surprisingly well with the sweetness of the milk custard. A bargain at HK$36, two desserts each was perhaps over the top and brought our bill from a laughable $171 (around £16) to $370 (around £34). All for four people. Incredible.
Is this the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant? Most probably. It has none of the characteristics of any other starred establishments I've been to; wedged into a bench next to a wall, the waitress barked orders at us to wedge even closer so that they could get through. No tablecloths, no fripperies, but what they did have was excellent dim sum, freshly made and we left with (disgustingly) full bellies and smiles on our faces.
I must admit, I had a bit of a smirk at the enormous queue when we left.
Tim Ho Wun
Taui Yuen Mansion Phase 2,
2 - 20 Kwon Wa Street