The Hong Kong eatery that emerged as a global food destination after it was named the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant will open three outlets in Sydney next year, including a flagship outlet on George Street in the CBD. Tim Ho Wan will also open in late March in Melbourne's Chinatown, with Brisbane also on the radar.
The pint-sized restaurant with its diminutive dumplings, started by former Four Seasons Hong Kong dim sum chef Mak Kwai Pui, attracted big queues long before the Michelin inspectors turned up. Its neatly tailored dishes, fawned over in a city obsessed with dim sum, have spread from Hong Kong in recent years, with satellite restaurants in south-east Asia.
"Most of our restaurants you can queue for up to an hour and a half, in Sydney we'll be offering a reserve option," says Vince Howe, who is heading up Tim Ho Wan's Australian operations.
"The first will open in Chatswood, above the railway station, in late February. Then at Westfield in Burwood in June, with the George Street restaurant, located opposite Event Cinema, in October," Howe says.
Despite a global fan base, Howe says Australia was chosen before Europe and the US because our palates are tuned to Asian food.
"Plus, the Aussies were the first foreigners to flood to Tim Ho Wan," he says.
Howe isn't a fan of the Australian obsession with yum cha carts though.
"Everything we make is fresh and made to order. Nothing is made overnight or frozen. It's also good to have a menu, so you know what you're paying for. With [the cart system] there is that surprise at the end of the meal when you find out what it cost."