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New dim sum King in Miami

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I've been known to go well out of my way for dim sum in almost every city I've visited (I even tried in Buenos Aires, to no avail). The reason being that there's such a dearth of dim sum in South Florida that I turn rabid whenever I even get a hint that there may be a decent siu mai close by.

I'd been wanting to try Mr. Chu's on South Beach for a while but heard it was rather expensive for Chinese. Then I found out they added a dim sum lunch. I was there in a flash. First things first, I can't help but compare the place to Tropical Chinese since it's about the only place in Miami for push cart dim sum (Miss Yip doesn't count). In all aspects Mr. Chu's was superior - decor, service, atmosphere. Whereas Tropical's decor just seems tired and in need of a facelift, Mr. Chu's is fresh and clean. Servers are a little overcostumed, but better than seeing servers in stained white shirts.

As for the dim sum, the variety is a little less than Tropical's; however, it is vastly superior. Whereas Tropical's has a frozen food quality, Mr. Chu's seemed fresh. The dumplings seemed lighter, the radish cakes not as greasy. The biggest weakness is in fried items of which there were very little. Better for the arteries I guess.

The restaurant was rather empty for a Sunday but customers trickled in steadily. Given the quality of the offerings and the lack of competitors, I don't see why Mr. Chu's doesn't take the reins on dim sum in Miami.

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  1. Didn't know Mr. Chu's did dim sum - will have to try it one weekend. Suprised to hear you down on Tropical. We've had dim sum in SF (Yank Sing), Vancouver (Sun Sui Wah) and London (Royal China) and thought Tropical held its own against all of them.

    There is a place called Kon Chau which is near Tropical on the other side of Bird - only been once a long time ago, a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, but seemed pretty authentic.

    New Times listed Jumbo on 163rd last year as best dim sum, unfortunately it's only OK at best. Still all right for the occasional dim sum fix when we don't feel like driving out west.

    1. I guess I'm a little harsh on Tropical. It's just that I've been in MIA going on 10 years and you get tired of Tropical after a while. I've tried Kon Chau a couple of times but the drab decor makes me not want to return.

      But give Mr. Chu's a try. It's worth it.

      1. Kon Chau was sort of sad.

        Had one dinner at Mr. Chu which was pretty good and also provided a great story. I got an appetizer of silverback fish, which turned out to be tiny fish fried whole like whitebait. The whole family, wife, son (then 8) and daughter (6) are chomping away merrily on the little french-fry-like guys, until my wife looks closely and realizes what they are. The two tiny black eyes staring at you from one end of the french fry were the give-away. She immediately stops eating and turns slightly green, but doesn't want to say anything for fear of traumatizing the kids. A couple minutes later I let my son in on the secret (whispering "Look closely at your little fried thing - is it looking back?") who kept on munching away and thought it was all great fun, especially when he didn't tell his sister until after she had also eaten several more.

        1. Hey, great call on Mr. Chu! We tried it today for lunch and I thought everything was excellent. Selection was good too. I think the longer you stick around the more you see. After I'd already had my fill they started circulating with all sorts of new stuff, includng a shark's fin dumpling and small portions of dishes off the regular menu too.

          Only drawback is that my kids, who are roast pork bun aficionados, thought these had too much onion in them. But they heartily approved of the custard tarts and custard buns.

          We've been faithfully making the pilgrimage from the beach out to Tropical for years - great to have something closer that is this good.

          1. We completely agree. We have been loyal patrons of Tropical Chinese for many years. But we live on the beach and were very excited to try something new and close by. The dim sum was very good. It seemed like they has less of a selection than Tropical but the quality was better. We also tried Mr. Chu for dinner one night. They don't have dim sum at night but the meal we had was excellent. The jumbo shrimp and vegetable dish had perfectly cooked EXTRA JUMBO shrimp in a delicious white sauce. And they are very accomodating. We requested a side of spicy eggplant which was not on the menu and they were happy to prepare it for us. It came to the table steaming hot and it was delicious.