Join queue to top food
Mak Kwai Pui at the Tim Ho Wan dim sum house.

The only clue to its identity is the queue of locals stretching several metres down the street.

At the front of the line, sandwiched between two never-ending facades of grey cement, is a nondescript shopfront with green signage that spruiks its wares in Cantonese: this is the famous Tim Ho Wan dim sum house, the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant.

You can't book a seat here; royalty or not, if you want to sample Tim Ho Wan's legendary cha siu bao (baked pork buns - there are many variations on the spelling) you have to take a ticket and line up outside with the rest of them.

When our tour group arrived, the delightful Mak Kwai Pui was manning the kitchen.

Despite the fact our presence was clearly a nuisance for the wait staff squeezing past us to service the handful of tables inside, Mr Mak played the proper proprietor and cheerfully posed for photographs as our guide translated a slew of requests into Cantonese.

Mr Mak would have been in no doubt as to what the fuss was about, accustomed as he must be to the sight of foreigners with notebooks and cameras fawning over his humble hole-in-the-wall establishment.

Not that he needs the publicity: Tim Ho Wan received its Michelin star soon after opening in March last year and its already significant following has been growing since.

Despite this, it remains a strictly no-frills refectory, and diners can walk out with stomachs full for as little as $HK50 (about $7). Menus at the eatery - in Kowloon's popular Mong Kok markets district - are in Cantonese, so bring a translator, and they don't serve bottled water, so be prepared to drink Chinese tea.


>> Tim Ho Wan #1: 8 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon.

>> Tim Ho Wan #2: 9 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon.

>> Mong Kok is renowned for its bird, fish and flower markets - a bouquet of fresh roses sells for the equivalent of about $4 - and "hubs" selling footwear, sportswear and kitchen utensils, so if you are planning on joining the queue at Tim Ho Wan it is advisable to make a day of it.

The West Australian

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