Tim Ho Wan: Are You Really Having a Michelin Star Rated Meal? Find Out the Truth

Let me set the record straight. Many of you already know this, but I noticed that many other people seem to have the wrong idea. The fact is, TIM HO WAN branches in the Philippines are not Michelin-starred establishments.

Chef’s Specials

I know that the whole “Michelin Star” rating has been thrown around very casually when it comes to Tim Ho Wan. But to make things clear, these stars are awarded to a particular restaurant, not a restaurant brand. This means that subsequent branches need to earn stars of their own. The rating isn’t carried by the whole brand nor by the chef. Therefore, there are actually no Michelin-starred chefs, only chefs that work/own in Michelin-starred establishments.

Basically, the Michelin guide was initially started as a guide for motorists who are travelling around a certain location. The stars give recommendations on dining establishments that are worth a stop or even worth a special trip.  Because of this, the “starred” establishments only refer to a certain branch/location and isn’t an umbrella rating for all franchises or branches under the same name.

Likewise, Michelin ratings take many things into consideration like service, consistency ambiance etc. Because of this, each branch needs to earn its own star based on its own merit. As of now, there are no Michelin-starred restaurants in the Philippines. This is because there is no Michelin guide released for any city in the Philippines.

Now that we are clear, let me emphasize that just because the branches in the Philippines do not have Michelin Stars, that doesn’t mean that their quality is any less. Like I said, a large part of the absence of stars lies in the fact that there isn’t even a Michelin guide for the country.

Let’s talk about the food then, shall we?

In a recent visit to the chain’s Glorietta branch, my foodie friends and I checked out the Chef’s specials. Dubbed as “The Noodle Soup Collection,” the star of the special menu is clearly meant to be the Chinese noodle soup. We tried three variations:

Egg Noodle Soup with Fish Ball: The fish balls were large, fluffy and very tasty. These are leagues ahead of the ones made with mostly flour that you can buy in local grocery stores. The thin, firm noodles were good and so was the broth. However, apart form the fish balls, the other elements were not entirely extraordinary.

Egg Noodle Soup With Fish Ball Php160

Beef Brisket with Tendon Noodles and Beef Tendon Noodles: I am a huge fan of Beef Brisket and Tendon so these two noodle soup variations were a big hit with me. However, I’m not certain why these are served with the soup on the side. Frankly, without the beef and its sauce mixed in, the broth tastes rather plain and ordinary. As a whole, I really liked it. The beef was extremely tender and the tendon was sticky and chewy. The serving size is also perfect to allow you to have room for other delicious dim sum bites!

Beef Tendon Noodles Php190
Beef Brisket and Tendon Noodles Php190

Other items in the Chef’s Special Menu were:

Spring Roll with Radish in Vermicelli Roll (Php120): I like the contrast of textures in this dish. The vermicelli roll isn’t a typical dim sum option offered in most of the mainstream Chinese restaurants in the Philippines so it was nice to see this here.

Spring roll with radish in vermicellli roll

Prawn Sauce Fried Chicken Wings (Php140): This dish isn’t a usual offering in most local dim sum places either. When it comes to chicken, we are more used to seeing chicken feet in Chinese restaurants versus wings. Because it was glazed in a prawn sauce, it tasted a little bit like there was a bagoong coating. Imagine dipping wings in bagoong.. hmmm not for everybody? It’s an acquired taste so I think not 100% of customers will like it.

Prawn Sauce Fried Chicken Wings

Lotus Cake with Minced Pork (Php150): This dish reminded me a little bit of the Korean Pajeon. It’s a tiny savory pancake that’s crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. I really enjoyed this dish and will likely have it again.

Lotus Cake with Minced Pork

After we’ve had our fill of the Chef’s Special Menu items, we needed to partake in some of our classic Tim Ho Wan favorites. These are some of the more familiar and well-loved dim sum items that many other restaurants offer, and for good reason.

Prawn Dumpling or Hakaw/Har Gao (Php160): This item is popular all over the world and it’s easy to see why. The fresh chunky pieces of prawns really shine against the translucent, chewy wrapper. A small piece of art, it’s a delight to bite into.

Prawn Dumplings

Beancurd Skin Roll with Pork and Shrimp (Php140): The meaty texture of the beancurd skin makes a great alternative to the usual dim sum wrapper. It’s very hearty and satisfying. The flavor is mild but it isn’t boring. A real crowd-pleaser.

Steamed Egg Cake (Php85): This is reported to be one of the dishes that gave the Hong Kong Tim Ho Wan branches their Michelin Stars. Even though it’s called cake, it’s not your usual sweet treat. There is still a savory element to it, somewhat like a corn bread. It was my first time to try this and I was pleasantly surprised. It doesn’t look like much but it packs a lot of flavor.

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (Php145/3pcs.): The dish that everyone has been waiting for is of course, the baked pork bun. No meal in Tim Ho Wan is complete without these.  even if we already ate a variety of items, many of us were still able to scarf down one or two of these. The warm, flaky bun is sweet and a little bit crunchy. Inside, a generous filling of sweet and salty char siu pork just oozes out and explodes in your mouth! I can eat these all day!

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork

Custard Roll: We closed out our meal with a sweet custard roll. I could best describe this dish as a Chinese version of a cannoli. A roll of crispy pastry filled with custard instead of mascarpone cheese.

Custard Roll

Overall, it was a great meal with various textures and flavors. That’s the beauty of having dim sum, you can sample several items instead of just sticking to one dish. There were outstanding dishes and there were also some that didn’t really shine. However, it was a pleasant meal and will surely keep coming back to try out more items.

See the full menu and other reviews on Zomato:
Tim Ho Wan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato