Tim Ho Wan is a wildly popular dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong due to its reputation as the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world. My friend Terrence described the food there as “first world flavors at third world prices,” which is pretty accurate. So naturally there was a lot of fanfare surrounding Tim Ho Wan’s first US opening in NYC last December. There were stories of epic waits just to get on the waitlist for a seating that would happen hours later. Adam Platt on Grubstreet said that a three hour wait was worth it.
Now that it’s been about 5 months since Tim Ho Wan opened, the craziness has settled down a bit. On a Sunday evening, I put my name down for a table for two at 6 pm and was quoted a wait time of an hour, which I thought was reasonable given how much worse it could have been. They text you when your table is ready, so you can run an errand or hang out at home if you’re nearby before heading back out to be seated.
So what’s the verdict? The food is definitely good, and the ingredients are of a higher quality than what you’d get at the dim sum places in Chinatown. The signature baked bbq pork buns are tasty, although the ones in Hong Kong are better. The shrimp tastes fresh, the rice noodles are never gummy and the flavors are clean. The service is also excellent, with waiters ready to accommodate your requests for a refill or a reorder. But is it worth a 3 hour wait? I’d disagree with Platt here. If that were the case, I’d much rather go to Dim Sum Go Go and get seated immediately for dim sum. Maybe the flavors aren’t as refined, but they have all the dim sum staples, there are more options (you can order fried rice!) and what you’re settling for is not so bad.
In addition to the bbq pork bun, I would strongly recommend the steamed pork dumplings with shrimp (siu mai), the steamed shrimp dumplings (har gow) and the congee with pork and preserved egg. The steamed pork spare rib with black bean sauce and the steamed rice roll with shrimp and chinese chives are also solid. I would skip the chicken feet and the deep fried eggplant with shrimp. If you come with a big group of 6-7+ people, you could probably takedown the whole menu, but limiting yourself to just the hits isn’t bad at all.
Tim Ho Wan
85 4th Ave (between 10th and 11th St)
New York, NY 10003