Tim Ho Wan earned a reputation as the world's cheapest Michelin-star restaurant, after its original Hong Kong location in Mongkok earned 1 Michelin star in the 2010 Hong Kong and Macau Michelin Guide. In 2015, its Sham Shui Po, Tai Kok Tsui and North Point locations also earned 1 Michelin star.
More recently, after opening locations in Singapore, Manila, Sydney, Jakarta, Taipei, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, Tim Ho Wan opened in NYC in 2016, and now has both an East Village location (which this review is of) and Hell's Kitchen location, plus restaurants in Irvine, CA, Las Vegas, and Waikiki, Hawaii.
Tim Ho Wan NYC East Village Location
Tim Ho Wan's East Village location is at 85 4th Avenue, between 10th and 11th Street, close to the Astor Place subway station (4, 5, 6 trains) and 8th Street station (N, R, Q, W trains).
Expect a wait, as Tim Ho Wan is popular. We arrived just before 11am on a Saturday, and were told to expect a 30-40 minute wait, which ended up being 50 minutes. You leave your name and phone number, and the restaurant texts you when your table will soon be ready.
The immediate entryway was both rather chilly and had explicit rap music, so most patrons were crowded inside the restaurant to be warmer and (perhaps) to avoid the music.
Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum Menu and Food
Once we were seated, however, service was prompt. We took just a minute to complete the paper dim sum order form (Tim Ho Wan makes dim sum to order, so you fill out your form, your server puts the order in, and your dim sum is delivered to you fresh and hot).
First to arrive were Tim Ho Wan's legendary char siu bao, baked bbq pork buns. These are on the smaller side, with a sweet, crunchy top, and have a better filling to bun ratio than most char siu bao you'll get in Chinatown. I was glad I'd gotten two orders, so that we could each have two, as they were my family's favorite.
Next up were the steamed rice rolls with shrimp and chives, which are doused (if you request) with a dark, sweet soy sauce. These were good quality, although not that distinctive relative to others I've had. You can definitely get better ones in Hong Kong, although most likely they'll be more expensive.
I preferred the steamed rice roll with bbq pork, which came later; the bbq pork tends to be done well at Tim Ho Wan.
One of my favorites for dim sum is sticky rice with a savory meal and mushroom filling, steamed in lotus leaf. The ones at Tim Ho Wan are one big packet, which suited us fine, as we shared it. The filling was generous, with chicken, mushroom and sausage in the center.
The vegetable spring rolls were crispy and hot, and are one of the very few vegetarian offerings, so critical to order if anyone in your party is vegetarian. They weren't that special, however, so if it weren't for the lack of other vegetable offerings I probably wouldn't order them again.
The steamed dumplings with shrimp and chives had a good filling and thin wrapper, so I liked them, although I liked the char siu bao, steamed rice roll with bbq pork and sticky rice in lotus leaf a bit better.
I'm thrilled that Tim Ho Wan is in NYC, even if I'm late to visit it, since it's been open for a couple years now. It will likely become our go-to spot for dim sum, although we'll try to get there as early as possible, given the significant wait time. Must orders are the baked bbq pork buns, steamed rice roll with bbq pork, and the sticky rice in lotus leaf. I just wish there were also some vegetable offerings, such as steamed or sauteed Chinese broccoli or bok choi, since it's a very meat-heavy menu.
If you've visited Tim Ho Wan, what was your experience?
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