Date Traveled, February 2013
When I first visited Tim Ho Wan in early 2012, they were still a little hole in the wall kind of Hong Kong shop in Mongkok with crowds of devoted diners waiting 2 hours to eat their famous Michelin star worthy Dim Sum specialties. On my next visit to Hong Kong almost exactly an year later, I excitedly made my way to Kwong Wa Street in Mongkok right after I checked into my hotel and was horrified to find that Tim Ho Wan had closed!
Horrified until someone at a neighboring store told my partner and me that they had moved to a new location, and only a little over a week ago at that. When I later read that the new location was inside a large mall, I was partly sad because I guessed correctly that we would no longer be experiencing the charm of its small shop atmosphere. Fortunately the food turned out to be just as good as I remembered it. Their new location is at 18 Hoi Ting Road, at a large mall complex called Olympian city in Tai Kok Sui, Kowloon. It is about a 20 minute to half hour walk west of their old location in Mongkok. As you walk westwards from the Mongkok MTR stop, you will come across an overhead footbridge that will take you directly into the mall from where you should be able to get directions to Tim Ho Wan.
The new locations clean modern interior is a contrast to the charm of the old shop on the right
The line half an hour before opening
Tim Ho Wan is probably among the top if not the best place to have Dim Sum in Hong Kong. On my last visit, the wait was a good two hours. You are given little pencils and a menu to tick their items and quantity you need. The menu was in Chinese and that would have been a challenge for us but fortunately my partner and I were with her mother who was able to order for us. Inside we were seated in a tiny table with other tightly packed patrons and given fresh, fast and marvelously tasty food. We were traveling alone this time but had come prepared, taking a picture of their Chinese menu and learning about what we were going to order with help from her dad...but things have changed at the new location. Tim Ho wan is no longer in a tiny old building but has a brand new, much larger location at Olympian city. It is easily 5 times larger than its previous location and seats I believe a little over 100 people. We had arrived a good half hour before opening time at 10 but there was not surprisingly a long line there already which only grew much longer behind us. However, thanks to the larger location, we were easily seated and I am guessing the wait times are significantly shorter than the two hours that was typical at the older location. You are now greeted at the entrance by smartly dressed staff wearing jackets, clearly a step in upward mobility, and the decor being just a week old is brand new and sparkling. The previous shop was dark and dimly lit but the new spot is bright with large windows. Most shocking of all, the menu now has English translations!
Oh well, I am not going to whine about things not being the same once these little charming places expand. Good on them for growing, no one can deny that a bit of the charm is lost and there is some nostalgia for the old days, but as long as the food is good I wasn't going to complain. Also I have to admit the English menu made things a lot more convenient for us. This was what we ordered below.
We ordered a whopping 10 items which was enough for a family of four or five. We were flying back to New York later that afternoon and wanted to make the most of the day. We had just had an early breakfast at Kam Wah cafe and we would later again eat chocolate daan jai. While we could finish most of the stuff we ordered, 10 items after an earlier breakfast of butter filled pineapple buns or bo lo bau was in hindsight not such a great idea, but hey, what do you do if you don't get too many chances to visit Hong Kong?
The menu is mostly the same as the old one except for the English translations and just as tasty as ever. They are legendary for their BBQ pork buns and you should certainly tick that regardless of what else you order. Some of our other favorites were the steamed beef ball and their their dumplings. The only complaint was they mixed our order of red bean soup with some gelatinous cake which we were not a fan of but at that time much too full to bother to change or complain.
Bbq pork buns
Rice with chicken and pumpkin
Left Tim Ho Wan full, much too full, but very satisfied and happy. If you have eaten there before the change, consider yourself a bit fortunate for having experienced that old place charm, but even if you haven't you can still go and experience the same delicious food that they have brought along to the new location.