Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant Tim Ho Wan has shuttered its two Malaysia outposts, Malaysian Digest reports. The Hong Kong-based restaurant, which has been dubbed the most-affordable Michelin-starred restaurant, had operated the two locations since 2014, but reportedly suffered more than $200,000 in losses over the past year. Owner Mak Kwai Pui is blaming Malaysia’s majority Muslim population.
According to the chef, the restaurants failed because Muslims “don’t eat pork.” Traditional dim sum dishes feature pork heavily, and Tim Ho Wan in particular is known for its barbecue pork bun. But Malaysian locals are taking offense, pointing to the number of successful dim sum restaurants Malaysia’s Chinese population supports as clear evidence that Pui’s blame is misguided.
Malaysian-Chinese journalist Wan Qing told the Chinese Cross-Border Question and Answer project that the problem was the food at Tim Ho Wan, not Malaysia’s Muslim citizens: “The price of Tim Ho Wan is too high, the quality of food is so and so, service is poor, and the flavors of the dishes were not localized.”
Mak Kwai Pui opened the first Tim Ho Wan location in Hong Kong along with chef Leung Fai Keung in 2009. The two have since opened more than 40 outposts around the world. Last year, a Tim Ho Wan in New York became the 45th Tim Ho Wan location. Next up, an outpost in Waikiki is planned for this summer.
This isn’t the first time a Tim Ho Wan has failed to thrive. One of Tim Ho Wan’s three Sydney locations also quietly closed this month, Australian blog Good Food reports, and in this case, Pui doesn’t have religion to blame.
• Michelin-Star Dim Sum Restaurant Owner Blames Muslims That “Don’t Eat Pork” Over Closure Of M’sian Outlets [Malaysian Digest]
• A Hong Kong Businessman Sparks Backlash After Blaming Muslims for His Restaurant's Failure in Malaysia [Global Voices]
• Is Tim Ho Wan losing its lustre? [Good Food]