Tim Ho Wan, the Hong Kong hole-in-the-wall that wowed the world by winning a Michelin star in 2010, arrived in Bangkok in August 2015 to much fanfare. However, it didn’t take long for murmurings of discontent, in particular complaints about lax service and dim sum sweetened for the Thai palate.
We’re not really buying the claims of inauthenticity, though. While a far cry from the original 19-seater venue, the Terminal 21 branch mimics many of the brand’s larger, open canteen-like spaces all around Australasia. Though the crowds have diluted somewhat, don’t expect a fine-dining ambience; Tim Ho Wan is more akin to a high-volume tourist site: your order is taken before you’re shepherded to your seat, dishes come flying at breakneck pace, and then you’re outta there. We’ve no complaints. The wait-staff may swarm around you in comically large numbers, but they’re efficient and informative.
For us, the food comes close to the original, too, with prices that compare favorably. The one-sided placemat menu features 25 dim sum dishes. Some of it is superb, like the soft, mildly tangy pan-fried radish cake (B100) and the fluffy steamed egg cake (B80). We can’t say the same of the shrimp vermicelli roll (B150), which is doughy and all-but-flavorless, or the glutinous rice cooked in lotus leaf (B150) and beef rice and fried egg (B120), which represent all that’s gloopy and stodgy about Hong Kong cuisine.
But most of the classics are done right, like the delicious pork and shrimp shumai (B120), har gow (shrimp dumpling, B130) and mango sago dessert (B90), which is thicker and fresher than those we’ve tasted at other branches, bursting with pomelo tartness. The only time we feel cheated is with the famous pork bun (B120/3 pieces): supposed to come oozing with barbecue sauce and chunks of roast pork, it here comes puffed full of hot air. The immense flavor is still there, as is the trademark crisp, sweet bun. It’s good, but frequent travelers to HK know it can be so much better.
Peel away the Michelin-star back-story and you’re left with affordable, mall dim sum that mostly hits the mark. But if it’s ceremony and delicacy you want, just visit the incredible Chef Man.
This review took place in November 2015 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.