There were hoards of people standing outside, waiting nervously, seeming awfully unsure about what they were doing there. Every ten minutes or so, a small Chinese man would step out the door and assign each waiting party a number.
“How long?” they would ask.
“One hour!” he would reply, not making eye contact, furiously scribbling away on his clipboard. I looked at my partner in crime. “What the heck are we going to do for an hour?” It’s not like we were in the middle of the city.
In fact, I had heard stories of people waiting up to five hours just to step foot inside Tim Ho Wan, the tiny dim sum restaurant in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. It gained its reputation after receiving the Michelin Star stamp of approval, and now holds the title as having the best dim sum in Hong Kong.
We walked away and explored the streets. An hour passed, and we returned to the restaurant, only to find a whole new crowd of people, and an even bigger one than the first time. Taxis in Hong Kong must know this place well.
The skinny Chinese man was calling out numbers, handing out papers, and pointing and ushering people through the door with great energy.
We had already marked our orders on the piece of paper. We knew ten dishes between the two of us would be more than suitable. A woman, this time, came out, grabbed our order, dragged us inside, and pushed us into our seats. The rest of the staff were teeming about, frantically pouring tea and trying to fit more dishes onto tables that were already overflowing with food.
And then our food came.
First was the congee with salt and preserved egg.
Vermicelli rolls with barbecue pork.
Steamed shrimp dumplings.
And the highlight of the whole meal: baked barbecue pork buns. What’s important to note about these, first of all, is that they are baked, not steamed as most pork buns are. They were slightly crunchy on the outside, a little bit flaky, and a little bit sweet. They had been sugarized! And the mixture with the savory pork on the inside was unlike anything I’ve eaten before. My eyes widened as I looked at my associate who had not yet tried his. He didn’t realize what was going on inside my mouth.
Pork and shrimp dumplings.
Pork spare ribs in black bean sauce.
And for dessert: sesame dumplings with a red bean paste filling!
When we were done stuffing our faces, we enjoyed another cup of tea, had a small chat and a flirt with the two girls sitting beside us, and paid our bill.
And the best part about this meal (aside from the pork buns)? It only cost about $10USD each!