New York now has its very own location of Tim Ho Wan, a Hong Kong-based dim sum chain that rose to fame for being the lowest priced restaurant in the world to get a Michelin star. It’s the brainchild of chefs Mak Kwai Pui and Leung Fai Keung, and since they opened the first location in 2009, the popularity spawned more than 40 outposts around the world. On Friday, they finally hit U.S. soil with the soft opening in the East Village at 85 4th Ave., their 45th location overall. Here, each dish at the 60-seat restaurant costs less than $5.50.
It attracts long lines in Hong Kong, and its debut in New York looks like it's no different. An hour into the opening on Friday morning, dozens of people were already lined up to try it. The New York location’s largely similar to the one in Hong Kong — serving their version of traditional dim sum. "We don’t have fusion things," Pui says. Tim Ho Wan’s trademarks like char siu bao (a barbecue pork bun), luo buo gao (a turnip cake), and nuo mi ji (sticky rice in a lotus leaf) are all classics of the cuisine. New York’s outpost also offers two options exclusive to the city: a veggie spring roll, and a sweet, eggy French toast filled with custard.
Chef Wai Chan will be running the kitchen here. He’s a Chinese immigrant who’s been living in New York for years, and before getting going in the kitchen, he went to Hong Kong to train for several weeks. Tim Ho Wan’s quality is what must set it apart from other dim sum restaurants, Pui says. The team’s been working on the location since last year, and they’ve tried many of the dim sum restaurants here since then. The actual dishes at Tim Ho Wan aren’t so different from the others, he says. "Ours is fresh made," Pui says. "We make it today, we serve it today. This is our biggest thing. This is our biggest difference."
Tim Ho Wan will be in soft opening mode for about a month, meaning more limited hours. Lunch will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner will be from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The grand opening will be on January 18, and after that, the restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. If all goes well, they may open one or two more locations in New York, perhaps in Queens. "The quality has to be good, then we will slowly open more," Pui says. "No rush." Check out photos of the space, some food, and the menu below, and if you stop by, let us know what you think.