Tim Ho Wan, Mongkok, Kowloon Peninsula, Hong Kong.
I've done my share of silly things in the name of good food - some of those exploits documented here on AFAR, I'm sure. Standing on a street corner in the pouring rain at 9am waiting for a lunch restaurant to open with 150 other hungry visitors was certainly the strangest thing I did on this trip.
Totally worth it, though. Tim Ho Wan is famous for being the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, but it should probably be better known for being the house that dumplings built. I've had dumplings all over the world - living in Asia will give you a taste for them - and these were easily the best I've ever had. Plus, the atmosphere was fantastic, the food came quickly (sort of had to, with half of Hong Kong waiting to eat), and the kitchen was a great place to shoot.
We tried nearly everything on the menu and shared quite a bit with the people seated next to us. They were local folks who visited this joint at least once a week- despite the wait in the rain. I thought that spoke to the quality of this joint more than anything else.
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Michelin Dining on a Budget
Prior to arriving in Hong Kong, I dove wholeheartedly into restaurant and street-food research, including requesting information from the Hong Kong Tourism Board. One of the recommendations I kept coming across was Tim Ho Wan, the world's least expensive Michelin-starred restaurant. As a lover of dim sum, I felt it was almost a requirement for me to go here.
So, after wandering around Hong Kong for a few hours in the morning, I hopped on a double-decker bus and headed in the general area of Sham Shui Po without a map or idea of where I was going. Fortunately for me, I found my way, with the help of some very generous people in a real estate office. Going solo at lunchtime proved to be wise: the restaurant was packed but had a few single spots open, so I was seated in minutes.
Glancing around me a little nervously, I decided to go with what seemed to be very popular—the baked BBQ buns and the glutinous rice wrapped in a lotus leaf. The verdict: fantastic! And it only cost me $5.