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Tim Ho Wan Brings Michelin-Level Dim Sum to Katy

The Hong Kong-hailing restaurant will send you straight to dim sum heaven through its famous baked BBQ pork buns.

By Daniel Renfrow

Tim Ho Wan's menu includes over 20 dim sum options.

While many Houstonians go out of their way to avoid the bedlam of the Katy Freeway, there’s a new reason—besides visiting Buc-ee’s, of course—to risk your sanity on the 26-lane hellmouth: Michelin-level dim sum. 

Tim Ho Wan, the Hong Kong-hailing dim sum empire known for being "the world's cheapest Michelin-star restaurant," has just opened the doors of its first outpost in Texas (and only fifth location in the US), and it’s in a strip center in Katy Grand, which, we must note, feels very Houston. Since we're major dim sum fans over here at Houstonia, we scored ourselves a preview of Katy’s new temple to all things dim sum a few weeks back, and we can enthusiastically say that a meal at Tim Ho Wan is well worth the pilgrimage. 

Stylized dragon medallions and traditional Chinese characters decorate the ceiling of Tim Ho Wan. 

Katy’s new Tim Ho Wan location is light and airy (not unlike its dim sum) and occupies an over 5,000 square feet space at an end cap in Katy Grand, a shopping mall at the intersection of Interstate 10 and the Grand Parkway. The interior of the space, which includes a ceiling decorated with stylized dragon medallions (a reference to the restaurant’s logo) and traditional Chinese characters, has seating for 120, with additional seating available on an outdoor patio—a perfect spot in which to take advantage of al fresco dim sum-dining season. 

The restaurant’s simple menu includes over 20 dim sum options that are divided into separate categories based on cooking method, including steamed, baked, braised, pan fried, deep fried, and blanched. The menu also holds space for congee, a triumvirate of steamed rice rolls, steamed rice dishes, and a seven-strong list of dessert options.  

While all of the dishes we tried during our meal were quite stellar—from the har gow (steamed shrimp dumplings) to the siu mai (steamed pork dumplings with shrimp) and the beef balls with bean curd skin—there were obviously a few standouts. 

The baked BBQ pork buns at Tim Ho Wan are what dreams are made of. 

The first on that list, and what Tim Ho Wan is perhaps known best for, is the restaurant’s signature baked BBQ pork buns. While most pork buns come steamed, these ones are baked until crispy and topped with an irresistible sugar crust. Once cracked open, sweet and piping-hot char siu bbq pork oozes out the buttery bun and onto your plate. It’s what dreams are made of. While dim sum is meant to be shared, you and your guests will find yourselves fighting over every last one of the buns that make it onto your table—so make sure you order some extra.

The sticky rice in lotus leaf sports a sweet and earthy aroma.

The sticky rice in lotus leaf is another of the menu’s standouts. It comes to the table wrapped like a present in a lotus leaf, which once unraveled fills your table with a sweet and earthy aroma, an aroma that it imparts on the sticky rice and mixture of sweet and tangy meats that it contains. It’s a filling entree, so practice moderation as you eat it so you can save room for additional dim sum wonders. 

Tim Ho Wan's pan-fried turnip cake sports the most delicate of crisps. 

Equally compelling is the pan-fried turnip cake. It’s a pretty simple dish, but like all things at Tim Ho Wan, the texture of the cake is just right. While the body of our turnip cake was soft and subtle, the outside sported the thinnest of crisps on its skin—so thin that it was almost imperceptible, but it added so much to the texture profile of the dish. 

You'll want to order a second course of the lava custard sesame balls.

And then came the dessert course and our much needed introduction to Tim Ho Wan’s lava custard sesame balls. The white sesame-coated balls came to our table crispy and piping hot, and once ripped open, the most delicious yellow custard oozed out before quickly making its way into our mouths by way of our fingers.

By the end of our sesame-speckled lava ball feast (or perhaps “massacre” is a better word for it), there was, rather depressingly, nary a hint of their presence anywhere on our finger-licked plates—a perfect denouement to a meal that we’re going to have to re-experience a few more times if we’re ever going to be able to fully unpack it. But thankfully, Tim Ho Wan is just one quick-ish car ride down our favorite hellmouth away. 

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