Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong Station Podium Level 1
Overall rating: 6.5/10
Date of visit: December 2016
To find this place, go to Hong Kong Station and the part where you buy train tickets to the airport. At the end there will be an escalator down. Take the escalator down, go straight ahead, and then it will be on the right.
I heard about this restaurant from the place I was staying in Hong Kong, and apparently it’s quite a well-known place, which I also saw when I showed up here three times, although I only ate here twice.
The restaurant is popular, because this is your chance to have a Michelin star meal for around €15-€20. I don’t think it’s possible to reserve a table – you just line up outside and wait for a seat to be available (expect 15-30 minutes, or perhaps a bit more, in line). If you’re lucky you’ll get a small private table, but often you sit with other people at bigger tables, and if you’re only one person you should expect to sit with others, even if you get a table made for two.
Also, they only accept cash, and as far as I could understand, they didn’t serve wine but only water and sodas.
Personally, I felt the food was good, but also a bit hit or miss, but I might simply have chosen dishes I didn’t care much for. However, I found that the restaurant Canton’s Kitchen Dim Sum Expert served almost the same food, the food was equally good, perhaps even a little bit better, the price was the same, and there was no line. In my case, that other restaurant was also in my street, so it was easy. So, if you’re in Kowloon, save yourself the trouble and go to Canton’s Kitchen Dim Sum Expert. This says something about how powerful getting a Michelin star is.
In Europe we are used to exquisite service and pampering. The service here was basically non-existing. They took your orders on an order form you filled out with a pen, and then they served your food, one or two plates at random intervals, and desserts were also served among the other dishes and not at the end.
The food is not exactly small, pretty dishes with meat cooked for 36 hours garnished with herbs from the forest collected by the staff at 6 in the morning. The food is simply solid Cantonese food. I don’t have much experience with that type of food, but what I had here I mostly enjoyed.
The first time here I sat with someone else who let me try her dish, which was a big leaf filled with rice and some meat, but I don’t have a picture of it. It was some of the best food I tried here.
The best thing I had here was the barbecued pork buns, which is apparently one of their specialties, and deservedly so as it was very good. The Cubes on the left were a dessert jelly called tonic medlar and petal cake, which was something that I didn’t find to be particularly special (but not bad either):
I also tried steamed dumplings chiu chow style, and deep-fried spring rolls filled with garlic, which were okay dishes but not super special:
Slightly worse though I found steamed rice rolls stuffed with barbecued pork, as the casing was a bit slimy, and less slimy than that of a similar dish at Canton’s Kitchen Dim Sum Expert, but I recall the stuffing as being good:
Lastly, I tried the dish that many foreigners dread: Steamed rice with chicken feet and spareribs. They also serve chicken feet with abalone sauce. The skin on the chicken foot looked crispy, but was actually not crispy. There was no meat on the foot, so it was just like eating blubbery skin. I only ate a bit and left the rest. The rice lacked salt, but were okay I suppose.
The first time my bill came to HK$112 (€13.60) for three dishes including two sodas, and the second time my bill came to HK$128 (€15.60) for four dishes including two sodas. If I’m not mistaken, there’s also a HK$3 (€0.40) cover charge.
So, coming to a place like this as a foreigner means there are many dishes you don’t really know what is, so you have to take a leap of faith, especially since the staff doesn’t seem to speak English (except for the woman at the cash register). That means you might choose a string of dishes you love in the first attempt, or you choose no dishes you like. But there are enough interesting choices here to be able to get some decent food – especially the barbecue pork buns, but I still preferred going back to Canton’s Kitchen Dim Sum Expert, despite its own issues, as it was simply faster (due to no lines) and closer to where I was staying. Another good option, and in the same shopping center as Tim Ho Wan even (just two stories higher up) was Crystal Jade, although this also seemed very, very busy especially around lunch.