In a recent episode of Anthony Bourdain's "The Layover", he had a meal at Tim Ho Wan. It's also featured in Where Chefs Eat (one of the handiest books for travelling I own). It is renown as the cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the world so you know it just had to be on our itinerary for the Hong Kong stop of our global culinary adventure!
Firstly, you need to decide which of the three restaurants you want to visit as it's now a bit of a franchise. The original in Mong Kok is now closed (it only had 19 seats) and the one with the Michelin star is in Sham Shui Po. Another is in Hong Kong station (I'll provide directions to this one at the end as it's can be confusing). We decided to get the authentic starred meal even though we went to the Hong Kong station version the next day and the food was identical.
So, assuming you're going to the Sham Shui Po restaurant you'll need to take a train to that station (or get a cab), come out on the Fuk Wing exit, cross Fuk Wa St, and turn right on Fuk Wing St. Address is 7 - 9 Fuk Wing St so you'll need to walk a bit to the end of the street. I dropped the ball and didn't bring the address so we were lucky a local noticed my frustration and helped us find it. Ironically, we didn't talk to a single local who had heard of it. Strange. In any case, if you're struggling to find it look for this sign at the low end of the street.
Once you get there, the easy part is over. You need to queue up - we've heard it could be up to an hour. Walk up, get a number and a menu and wait until it's called. We were a bit worried that the menu was only in Cantonese but, as usual, the locals came to the rescue and this very friendly couple helped us translate all the items. Later we would find that they actually have an English menu inside - we almost wished they didn't after the fun we had with the locals.
So, other than a few mistakes finding the restaurant it went pretty smoothly. Then came our biggest error so far - when you order two of something you get two plates , not two pieces. So our order of two pork buns became six pork buns, two prawn dumplings became six, and so on. Needless to say, we had a challenge ahead of us. So much that the wait staff brought a second table for all the food! We were the subject of much laughter with the locals.
In the end we did pretty well. Only ended up with a couple pork buns and fried dumplings left over. What an amazing meal!
Now while the bill for our monstrous order totalled $20 each, we went back the next day to the Hong Kong Station location and indeed finished for less than $10AUD each. Had we not had a Coke it would have been $8AUD - FOR A MICHELIN STARRED MEAL. Beat that anywhere in the world! Let us know if you make it over, it will blow you away...
Hong Kong Station Tips - Ok, this one confounded us to no end. In reality, it's simple to find if you know the finer details and understand that the Google address is wrong. Enter the IFC Mall building at the ground floor at the cab rank and immediately go left down the escalator. At the bottom, turn left and go through the tunnel to a bunch of shops. Turn left and about six shops down on your right is Tim Ho Wan. The Google problem is that it is NOT in the IFC Mall and it is NOT on Podium Level 1. It is in Hong Kong Station, Level 1. Very different. In any case, once you find this sign you're home. Enjoy!