There are blogger rules and for each foodie destination there are places you must go to and things you must say. Just like London or Paris or New York, Hong Kong has a whole list of them. Quite frankly I wish I was a bit braver. I’ve been to Yung Kee and had the century egg and roast goose. Perhaps I should have ordered something else instead. I’ve also been to Mak’s Noodles and had their incredible noodles with prawn wontons (well a lot of times now) but if I was really brave I would, when I finally blog about it, refuse to use the word “springy”.
And… I’ve eaten dim sum at Tim Ho Wan in Mongkok. And what would be really brave is if this review didn’t mention “cheapest Michelin star in the world. Blah blah blah“. But it has and it is.
Now that’s done let’s get practical. I followed in Hollowleg’s footsteps (here) and got there early – 9:30am – which meant when the doors opened at 10:00am I got in with the first rush. It isn’t the hardest to find in the back streets of Mongkok as you will come across a line of the world’s best tourists (the Japanese) standing more efficiently than you in line. See the first picture. Copy them.
I went here before Jen arrived in Hong Kong so I was the token gweilo on the Tuesday morning I picked. The Japanese tourists I was seated/ shoehorned in next to by the friendly waiters began with a tourism masterclass by taking out a homemade book with translations of dim sum and pictures to point at. Very wise. I took a different approach, I took the dim sum menu (all in Cantonese) and ticked about 2 or 3 things in every section.
The result of this was epic. It was laughable. Three or four dishes in I started trying to share with my neighbours. Five or six in the waiters started laughing and people started pointing. After that, I began to feel like Bruce Bogtrotter in Mathilda by Ronald Dahl (synoposis here if you have never read it). I stormed on. Defeat wasn’t acceptable and wasn’t ever really an option for the simple reason that this was different. This was better. This was lighter. This was more fragile. This was more sophisticated and glorious than anything I had tried in London or elsewhere.
There is no need for me to go through each dish. You’ve had dim sum before. This was like that but better. Two dishes changed things for me though. One was the deep fried glutinous rice pork dim sum (a nice literal translation thanks to my secretary). The combination of the fried outside, gummy rice and pork filling was wondrous. The other was the turnip cake. It was more etheral and fluid than I have ever had before. Nothing like the over cooked and packed stuff you get outside of Hong Kong.
Finally, what I find really interesting is that Tim Ho Wan is cheap and good but it is not meant to be the best by any means. The chef came from three Michelin starred Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons which is meant to be a notch (and price) up and the boards of Chowhound and OpenRice blather about better, different alternatives. And if you said to me “do you want to go again but you have to wait 3 hours?” I would laugh and say no. The variety and quality which I have yet to try excites me more than the possibility of a re-visit.
- Price – 100hkd for enough food for 3 or one Bruce Bogtrotter-esque idiot (about £8)
- Shop 8, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
PS if you are really really brave you will visit the new branch of Tim Ho Wan in Sham Shui Po instead (here via CNNgo) . That really would be cool.