Reminiscing Hong Kong: Tim Ho Wan in Malaysia

I have been to Hong Kong few times, and it was always related to work. My last visit in Dec 2014 was for a business conference. A conference that had us working past midnight, before and throughout the conference. Phew! I survived that.

What makes the December trip different was that it marks my first HK trip with D. Blessed him for taking care of HK trip planning.  I didn’t even get to enjoy our all-expenses-paid room at 4-star East Hotel.

View from our room at East Hotel, Hong Kong, 2014 (Photographer: Pravich Vutthisombut)

It was weird as well as he had a long list of ‘to-see, to do, to eat‘ list .. The last part normally falls under my sort-of responsibility. I remembered he once told me that food is not a priority during travel. Uh-hu .. look who’s talking? He explained that he tried to make the most out out of the trip. My mind and body was preoccupied with the conference; I wasn’t much fun. He was left alone exploring the city by himself throughout the conference. Thanks, D for your understanding.

I only had two or three restaurants in my checklist. Tim Ho Wan was one it. I wanted to try the dim sums at Tim Ho Wan, lauded as “the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant.

But at that point of time, I wasn’t aware that the Michelin one star was only awarded to the branch at Mongkok and Sham Shui Po. Mongkok was the original branch, but it has already closed down due to high rent. So, this leaves the Sham Shui Po branch.

D and I tried our luck at IFC Mall, Central branch. We gave it a missed due to immense queue. Unexpectedly, we discovered there was a new Tim Ho branch within walking distance from where we stayed. So we satisfied our curiosities at the North Point branch.

Well .. I wasn’t blown away. The food was so-so. I thought we can find easily find similar quality in KL. I did enjoy their baked bun with bbq pork, a novelty for me, crispy skin ala Hong Kong-style pineapple bun. But to queue hours for it, is definitely a big NO WAY.

Tim Ho Wan, North Point, Hong Kong

Tim Ho Wan arrived in Malaysia in Nov 2014. Malaysians went gaga over it, queued for hours. I wonder if they knew that the branches in KL are just regular dim sum joints. I mean … yes, it is Tim Ho Wan, but minus the star. So, if they were expecting a star-struck-wow-so-delicious kind of meal .. then, I am afraid that they might be disappointed.

I finally brought mum to Tim Ho Wan today. I drove to 1 Utama, not knowing what to expect, in terms of queue time. So I opted for a late lunch. We arrived around 1.40pm, and got a table straight away.

Bringing mum to a new restaurant is always a ‘hit-and-miss’ affair. Either she loves it, or not, or totally being indifferent.

As expected, she commented about the pricey  dim sums. I explained about the Michelin star, but didn’t dwell on the fact that the accolade is not applicable here.

We ordered only four plates of dim sums, and her rank of favourites:

  1. Pork dumpling with shrimp – 4 pieces (RM 11.50)
  2. Vermicelli roll with bbq pork (RM 13.60)
  3. Braised chicken feet with abalone sauce (RM 10.50)
  4. Baked bun with bbq pork – 3 pieces (RM 11.50)

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. It’s different than mine. I prefer the baked bun, followed with the vermicelli roll, pork dumpling and braised chicken feet.

I think that the bbq pork bun here tastes better than the one I had in Hong Kong.

Total damage for 2 pax: RM 54.10

Tim Ho Wan, 1 Utama, Malaysia

I did a bit of reading on “Michelin Star.” I thought this article sheds a lot of lights for me, interesting read:

In layman term, the star is like a holy grail to the food industry. It’s awarded to the restaurant, not the chef. If the restaurant has few branches, the award is not a ‘blanket’ award; applicable to a specific branch only.

Thanks to MasterChef, I can comment like an amateur food critic. It’s all about the quality of the food – the cooking, flavour, texture, technique, the “personality” of Chef in his cuisine, the consistency of food between visits and also that it must be good value for money.

The stars are awarded as follows (in Manglish, so please bear with me):

  • One star: If you want to impress someone, yeah, it’s worth a visit lah if you’re in the neighbourhood. But give it a miss, if you need to drive all the way from Kajang for it. It’s good within its category, not the best, but good.
  • Two stars: One hour drive, another half an hour looking for a parking spot, and another half an hour wait for a table? Do it, man if you are really into the girl. She’ll be so impressed with you. Sure win!
  • Three stars: If you need to wait for one month to be in the reservation list, you must so absolutely do it. Nothing is more important than this. Not even your dentist appointment. 


Travel opens up a whole new world, which is cliche but true. I am a strong advocate for independent and solo travel. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but now live in Bangkok, Thailand, resulted from a chance encounter in 2009 with my why-are-you-Thai bf. I am now split between two countries. One country for my bf, another for the family, for the occasional weekend together.