Tim Ho Wan
Sakura – Grey Goose Cherry Noir, Almond, Lemon, Cherry Blossom Soda
Appetizer Trio – Baked BBQ Pork Bun, Spring Roll with Egg White and Shrimp, Shrimp Toast with Black Truffle and Foie Gras Sauce
Sauce Sampler – Sambal, Soy, Chili Oil
Dim Sum – Pork and Shrimp Siu Mai, Har Gow, Shrimp and Chives Dumpling
Steamed Wagyu Bundle with Green Apple and Mushroom
Steamed Abalone with Chicken in “Mantou” Cup
Steamed Chilean Seabass Hong Kong Style
Steamed Maine Lobster with Homemade Sauce
Pan Fried Turnip Cake with Homemade XO Sauce
Dessert Trio – Sweet Osmanthus Jelly with Goji Berries, Deep Fried Sweet Pumpkin Ball with Custard, Sweet Taro Cream with Coconut and Sago
When Tim Ho Wan debuted at The PALMS in late September it marked the Restaurant’s fifth location outside of Hong Kong or Japan, and despite tepid reviews from hundreds of early visitors a decision was made to explore “the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant” on Tuesday evening as a group of fourteen.
Rapidly expanding since a 2009 debut in Mong Kok, Chef Mak Kwai Pui putting talents refined at three-star Michelin Lung King Heen to good use alongside partner Leung Fai Keung, Tim Ho Wan promises “authentic taste at a reasonable price,” though like many things in Las Vegas both quality and value must be gauged in relative terms.
Just the latest change in The PALMS’ “From dust to Gold” rebrand, a sizable space adjacent their parking garage offering plentiful seating with full views of both kitchen and Dim Sum room, it was after confirming reservations for the PDR that guests filed in at 6:30pm, the room listed as Maximum Occupancy of thirteen soon overflowing and A/V equipment never functioning properly, even after calling a technician.
Not the last American parlor from these “Dim Sum Specialists,” Houston coming soon, it was by way of a man fluent in Cantonese that a pre-set menu was pre-arranged in six courses, two special requests in addition to eleven pieces of Dim Sum each tallying $2400 after tax, tip and limited Alcohol.
Busy early, but quieting by nine o’clock with the private dining room largely soundproof regardless, it was while several groups conversed that Beverages arrived slowly, nearly thirty minutes passing before receiving the Sakura in a strange metal vessel that concealed a mix of Vodka, Almond and Citrus with a pronounced floral aroma.
Presenting course one as Appetizers, the baked and fried trio arriving before some Drinks, it was right out the gate that Tim Ho Wan presented its signature Pork Bun, a weight about half that of places on Spring Mountain attributable to the crisp exterior and freshness while Spring Rolls and Shrimp Toast were slightly greasy, the latter in particular though it did do a nice job melding luxury ingredients into a single, rich flavor.
Not wasting any time before refreshing settings for course two, service subsequently slower and highly professional throughout a three-hour stay, Dim Sum again offered three distinct items, the Har Gow failing due to its overly thick wrap while both Crystal Chive Dumpling and Siu Mai were more dainty, though the former was most certainly benefitted by one of three Sauces.
Offering more “luxury” Ingredients next, domestic Wagyu with Asparagus and Apple losing anything gained from good Beef by way of thinned Sauce that tastes a bit like A1, it seems ground Chicken in cupped Bao would have tasted mostly similar without tiny fragments of Abalone, though specially requested Hong Kong-Style Seabass was exquisite in a bath of sweetened Soy, Sherry and Ginger.
Apparently paying top-dollar for off-menu Lobster, its Tail snappy beneath a blanket of Butter, Claws fared less well thanks to a distinct taste of chlorine which thus allowed fried Turnip Cakes to steal the spotlight – first on their own and then more so when the event’s organizer suggested dipping the soft cubes in Hoisin.
Exploring more of the room before Dessert, Tim Ho Wan’s bar area showing The Golden Knights versus Chicago with full sound, it was again with a trio that the evening concluded, Osmanthus Jelly not going over well with most while cold Taro Cream and Pumpkin Balls both leaned hard on Coconut to be modestly sweet and texturally compelling.
THREE STARS: Touted as “the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant,” even though only one location in Hong Kong has been awarded such by the Red Guide, Tim Ho Wan at The PALMS is an immediate upgrade to Las Vegas’ Dim Sum scene, but at $171 per person (about 50% from off-menu specials and seventeen cocktails) the value is dubious.
RECOMMENDED: Baked BBQ Pork Bun, Shrimp Toast, Siu Mai, Steamed Abalone with Chicken, Pan Fried Turnip Cake, Sweet Pumpkin Ball.
AVOID: Har Gow, Wagyu Bundle, Lobster Claw (though there were four at the table and none but the three guests eating one noted the off taste.)
TIP: 10a-2a daily, website menu accurate as of 10/22/19. Lobster and Sea Bass were off-menu requests.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.