World's 'cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant' Tim Ho Wan opens in KL

RAGS to riches and zero to hero stories are the stuff that legends are made of. Like the story of a hole-in-the-wall dim sum eatery in Mongkok earning a Michelin star in its first year of operations.

It bills itself as "Hong Kong's most famous Michelin star dim sum restaurant" and others have billed it "the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world."

Such strong statements will surely drive the crowds to Tim Ho Wan, opened today at The Boulevard in Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur.

If you have visions of a fine dining restaurant, it would surprise you to find that inside, it looks no different from any fast food chain outlet. The laminate table tops are bare except for a paper menu that doubles as placemat and a pair of chopsticks and condiment rack. The only decoration one can see are the bamboo steaming baskets lining the kitchen pavilion.

A small clipboard held the order chit - tick your selections and hand it over. The pictorial paper menu makes it easy to order. And - surprise - there are only 25 items to choose from.

Headlining the menu are the "Big 4 Heavenly Kings": Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (RM10.80 [S$4.20] for three), Pan Fried Carrot Cake (RM9.80), Steamed Egg Cake (RM7.80) and Vermicelli Roll with Pig's Liver (RM10.80).

I hear you whistling for joy at such pocket friendly prices - prior to its opening, we heard rumblings that it was going to be expensive to dine here. It's no pricier than your regular up-market dim sum joint, with prices ranging from RM7.80 to the most expensive at RM12.80, and portions are hearty.

We were at Tim's the day before its opening, at a trial run doubling as preview - we had been warned that things might not be perfect and indeed the service was far from being polished or even rehearsed.

But I'm not complaining and this is not a review - that will come after its grand opening mid December. Consider this a whispering in the ear: the food is mostly very good. You will appreciate the freshness and gentle flavouring.

The menu is small enough for a small group to order everything on the list; if you are only two, go for the Heavenly Kings and the velvety smooth porridge with century and salted egg which has converted many to become congee lovers.

True to its hole-in-the-wall origins, this no frills, no fuss, no tricks, no reservations restaurant is focused on doing honestly good food. Let's not forget that founder Mak Kwai Pui was head dim sum chef of the Four Seasons Hong Kong's Lung King Heen, a three Michelin star restaurant.

Should you find yourself stressing over whether to join the long queue outside Tim Ho Wan - a notorious fact at every new opening - you know the answer. For this quality at such price points, you would be mad not to.

The patient can wait for more outlets to open to ease the queue, like the scenario in Singapore, which now has five outlets.

Tim Ho Wan, 27-G, Ground Floor, The Boulevard, Mid Valley City (opposite the Coach outlet), Kuala Lumpur.