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Dum Sum: Jumbo over Mr. Chu's

So I just came back from dim sum at Mr. Chu's based on strong recommendations from very reliable sources on this board. It was decent but I didn't find it better than Jumbo for the basics. In fact, Jumbo does a better shrimp dumpling, steamed shanghai soup bun, pan fried shrimp and leek dumpling, and sticky rice in lotus leaves at 1/3 of the cost. Mr. Chu's offers more of a high end selection with their scallop and king crab dumplings which are nice but a little steep at $6/pop.

The shrimp dumplings contained two whole shrimp which were a bit over cooked so they were a little shrunken and not juicy. The skin was also a little slick but that's being picky. The shanghai soup bun at Mr. Chu's was a huge wad of pork with no soup. Great for the South Beach diet but bad for me. Finally, the pan fried shrimp and leek dumplings were generously filled with leeks and shrimp but about 3x larger than normal. It makes it impossible to bite into the dumpling without spilling the contents across your plate. The tofu skin rolls were very good though.

Mr. Chu's does carts while Jumbo's are steamed to order. I prefer the latter because each dish arrives fresh. For proximity and convienience and for the scallop and king crab dumplings, I may go back to Mr. Chu's. However, I prefer Jumbo for the basics and for the more "traditional" pricing.

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  1. I always thought Jumbo's shanghai soup dumpling was the best in town, but the other stuff not as much. I don't love Mr. Chu's sticky rice, actually prefer it at Tropical better where it's studded with little bits throughout (little dried shrimp, mushrooms, bits of sausage) instead of how Mr. Chu's does it, where there's just one long bit of sausage in the middle. Need to try to the "new improved" Jumbo.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      I tried dim sum at Mr. Chu's recently as well based on recs from this board. Have to say, I was underwhelmed. I found the food mediocre and pricey. I prefer Jumbo's.

      1. re: Frodnesor

        The sticky rice today didn't have the sausage in the middle. Just the minced chicken and it was a bit oversalted.

        I don't know if Jumbo's versions are "best in town" but the shrimp dumplings, pan fried shrimp and leek dumplings, the turnip cake, and the sticky rice are are good renditions at a more dim sum-like price.

        What do you think of Kon Chau or the other stuff at Tropical?

        1. re: Porthos

          Only done Kon Chau a couple times and it's actually been a while since I've done Tropical. Still haven't made my way to South Garden. Also have not yet tried Sang's, which I didn't know did dim sum until hearing it on this board. I don't know if it's fair to compare to Jumbo as it seems they've upgraded recently.

          As between the two I've frequented most often, Mr. Chu's and Tropical: My kids prefer Tropical's BBQ pork buns. I like the tofu skin rolls better at Tropical than Mr. Chu's. I prefer Mr. Chu's chicken feet to any I've had elsewhere (a little more spice in the sauce). My daughter's nuts for the coconut bun dessert at Mr. Chu's. As noted above, I like Tropical's sticky rice and Jumbo's shanghai soup dumplings.

          1. re: Frodnesor

            See, that's the problem... if my parents come into town and I'm taking them out to dim sum, i may have to go to every single one of them and get the recommended dishes and forget about the rest. That would be a pain since the restaurants are all spread out all over Miami.

      2. Not a surprise since Jumbo is more "authentic" (see ads in the Chinese newspapers) while Mr. Chu , like Water Club, is going after a slightly different demographic.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Chandavkl

          So for authentic dim sum, I should go to Jumbo's? So if my parents come into town wanting authentic dim sum (and they live in Bellaire Chinatown in Houston), and they're not in town for long, I should take them to Jumbo's? I'm in downtown Miami.

          1. re: mialebven

            Houston's chinatown is bigger than Miami's chinatown/chinastreet. I don't think Jumbo is going to be significantly better than what you would get in Houston.

            1. re: mialebven

              Jumbo should be a good choice. Note that Miami's "Chinatown" isn't anything like Bellaire Blvd. with all of its Chinese and Vietnamese shopping centers. Rather, it's a short block on N.E. 163rd St. in North Miami Beach, plus a few other scattered Chinese businesses within a mile or so radius. The food is certainly not going to be better than what you get in Houston, but it would be sufficiently authentic for most people used to good Chinese food. Other good Chinese restaurants are scattered all over the place, some in Miami proper, others along a broad corridor running west of Fort Lauderdale, north towards Boca Raton, and where there are actually some Asian shopping centers.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                yeah, i'm well aware of what the chinese scene is like in south florida - while it did get me disappointed initially, i'm happy to be finding some gems like south garden, kon chau and so forth, but i have yet to see which is the best of the group in south florida that can well stand its own compared to other chinatowns. I still haven't really explored the 163rd St corridor, and while I know it is small, I still don't really know where to go down there. But also, I want to have a reason to go there since like you said, the community is spread out - I could get the same things at Lucky Mart maybe or something else. What I'm needing to know is where the "best" stuff is to get these things.

                Just because Houston's chinatown is bigger, it doesn't mean that the food there is necessarily better. I've had bad dim sum in Houston too, and I'm sure I can have bad dim sum elsewhere in the country with a significant chinese presence.

                my initial impression from reading about the chinese cuisine experiences in chowhound was that mr. chu's was the best, but now i'm a little puzzled. haha.

                1. re: mialebven

                  Traditionally once outside the Chinese food centers like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York I'd be happy to find authentic Chinese dishes even if the execution wasn't that great. But in the past five years I've found comparably good Chinese food in most every metro area that has a significant Chinese population, be it Phoenix, Fresno or Miami. While in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York the Chinese food in Chinatown is inferior to the authentic Chinese food in the suburbs, I haven't been able to discern a difference in the quality of Chinese food between Miami, North Miami Beach and the Lauderdale area.

                2. re: Chandavkl

                  Chandavkl, I'll ask you the same question I ask Frod. Have you been to Kon Chau or Tropical? How would you rate their dim sum?

                  1. re: Porthos

                    Hi mialebven>

                    To answer your questions, I would say a weekend afternoon at Mr. Chu's is a great spot for your out-of-town parents. The atmosphere is lovely, the little clattery carts are fun and the presentation overall is "hound-worthy." South Beach is not Chinatown, but then again there probably isn't a South Beach in Houston.

                    As to the North Miami Beach corridor, I definitely think it makes a fun afternoon to get off 95 at 826 eastbound (that's 167th Street) and stop into all of the interesting markets. The food on this stretch just gets better and better.

                    Check out:

                    Chung Hing Oriental Market, 1855 NE 163rd St, North Miami Beach; 305-947-6038.
                    Maggie’s Oriental Groceries, 1234 NE 163rd St, North Miami Beach; 305-945-6070
                    Mary Ann Bakery, 1284 163rd St, North Miami Beach; 305-945-0333.
                    PK Oriental Mart, 255 NE 167th St, North Miami Beach; 305-654-9646
                    Vinh An Oriental Market, 372 NE 167th St, North Miami Beach; 305-948-8860

                    Besides dim sum in that area - try the BBQ at King Palace, 330 NE 167th St, (not the buffet next door!) or the seafood at Sang’s, 1925 NE 163rd St, North Miami Beach, the Indian at Heelsha 1550 NE 164th St
                    (305) 754-3985, and Pan Ya Thai Restaurant 522 NE 167th St(305) 945-8566

                    One other idea for your parent's visit or a fun "date night" idea for foodies not belonging to PETA. We went to Mr.Chu's this weekend for their house special Peking Duck dinner.

                    It's served in 2 courses ($38) -

                    First the server brings the entire duck to the table on a cart (with it's delicious little smiling face still attached) and carefullly slices off crispy sections of the tea-smoked skin at the table. These pieces are individually wrapped in thin crepes with sauce and shredded scallions (think: duck-filled soft tacos) and the cone-shaped wraps are placed into sushi hand-roll stands. One duck yielded 3 stands of 3 cones each (9 total) and the 2 of us were pretty full after splitting these starter wraps.

                    The balance of the duck is whisked off to the kitchen...

                    A second course follows with the tender duck meat quick-stir-fried with Chinese veggies (peppers, sprouts etc) and served with individual bowls of steamed rice.

                    If you love Chinese-style duck, the Peking presentation is PLENTY for two hungry diners. It's a fun way to spend an evening on South Beach.

                    AG

                    1. re: Porthos

                      While I've been to both Tropical and Kon Chau it was a while ago and not necessarily representative of how the food is there now. Since you're used to the good, authentic Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley, you might be interested in a listing of the Chinese restaurants that have ads in the current edition of the weekly Miami area Chinese newspaper. Obviously it takes an authentic Chinese eatery to consider advertising in a Chinese language publication, though that does not absolutely ensure that the food is good. Nevertheless, there should be a high success rate among these restaurants. I would caution, though, that unlike in the Los Angeles area, many of these restaurants use the two menu system, so you need to be careful which one you order off of.

                      Miami - Kon Chau, Canton Palace, South Garden

                      North Miami Beach - Jumbo, Sang's, King Palace, Bamboo Garden

                      Broward County and north - Dragon City (Hollywood), Gao Lou Cheung, Silver Pond (Lauderdale Lakes), China Dumpling, Shanghai Garden (Boynton Beach), Atlantic Palace (Margate), Pepper's, Bamboo Garden II (Pembroke Pines); Toa Toa (Sunrise).

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        I like South Garden like other simple, Chinese people. It's inexpensive, authentic, and tasty. I'm not saying, however, that it's particularly special.

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          Chandavkl, Have you been to Dragon City?

                          1. re: Sobe

                            Never heard of the place until I saw the ad.

                3. You guys got me craving good dim sum, Went to Jumbo's and it was great. Thanks

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Sobe

                    Great topic, guys. Anyone on this board familiar enough with the dim sum in Philadelphia to compare it with your scene? Doing our bi-annual trip to Miami, staying in Key Biscayne this time, in early October. Would love to do dim sum on this trip. TIA.

                    1. re: Rondo

                      It's been a few years since I've had dim sum in Philadelphia, but I'll take a stab just based on my general observations on Chinese food in Philadelphia and Miami. I'd say that the Chinese food in Miami generally is better than Philadelphia, so I would think the dim sum is better, too. This is the case for a couple of reasons. First of all, Philadelphia's Chinese food is centered in Chinatown, which means that there is a dilution factor in that many of the restaurants need to appeal to the tourist population. Also, Philadelphia Chinatown is a somewhat poor neighborhood, so there a secondary dilution factor to make the food affordable for local residents. In contrast, Miami has no historic Chinatown and no historic Chinese population, but it does have a significant current Chinese population. This is important because there has been a progression of Chinese food in recent years (i.e., it continues to improve all the time based on trends in Asia). As such the Chinese restaurants in the Miami area reflect both residents and restaurant operators with a more recent connection to evolving Chinese food trends, leading to a better product.

                    2. re: Sobe

                      I revisted Jumbo today and went with some back up heavy eaters. We ordered shrimp dumplings, pan fried leek/shrimp dumplings, shanghai steamed buns, shrimp fun, stuffed beancurd skin, turnip cakes, steamed sticky rice in lotus leaf, and subgum pan fried noodles.

                      The filling for the shrimp dumpling was still excellent and more moist than Mr. Chu's. The wrapper was more cake-like and definitely not as well made as Mr. Chu's. The sticky rice, pan fried leek/shrimp, shrimp fun were all as good as the first time. The only downer actually was the shanghai steamed buns. The filling had some artificial crab meat and no soup. The looked nice though. The waitstaff was utterly confused though so you have to be patient with them. They confused everyone's orders and you just have to tell them what you did or did not order. Their fish tanks were stocked with carp, tilapia, and eel so it looks like they're stepping up the operation.

                      Next stop: Kon Chau.

                    3. I finally made my way down to South Garden today for dim sum lunch. Tried - shrimp dumpling; pan fried pork dumpling; stuffed bean curd skin; chicken feet; sharks fin dumpling; shrimp pasta; steamed roast pork bun; custard tart; and chinese donuts.

                      Some things I thought were particularly good - the stuffed bean curd skin was delicious, with a lot more variety in the stuffing than I've sampled elsewhere; the chicken feet were also great - on par or better than Mr. Chu's, both of which are a lot more flavorful than Tropical's. The shrimp items tasted quite "shrimpy" - not in a bad way at all, just genuinely flavorful. Most stuff in general tasted hot and fresh, which goes a long way toward a good dim sum experience.

                      The sharks fin dumpling was a little nondescript, I prefer Mr. Chu's. The pan fried dumpling was a disappointment. Odd textured, more gummy than crispy on the outside, and the pork filling was a little bland as well. The kids were not sufficiently won over by the pork buns and sweets for them to demand a return visit.

                      Interestingly, I didn't find the pricing to be terribly different than what we pay anywhere else including Mr. Chu's. Since Mr. Chu's adds tip, our bill usually comes out at around $13-15 / head. South Garden was $11 before tip.

                      I definitely thought it was good, and if I lived down south would probably be a regular. Don't think it'll merit a frequent 30-40 minute drive from the beach.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        Few places are worth a drive save for special occasions. One thing I enjoy about South Garden is that the dim sum items and blackboard specials always change. I was their Sunday, and it was 80% Chinese. BTW, The Chinese broccoli is always great, with oyster or garlic sauce.

                      2. My girlfriend and I were here on vacation and I wanted to try some Dim Sum down here. After reading the forums we decided that Mr. Chu's was the place to go.

                        We were NOT impressed. The service was not very good - the food had been sitting around for a while (we came at 12 so we thought it would have been fresh) and everything seemed dried out and - yucky - for lack of a better term.

                        Granted we are very picky with Dim Sum - growing up around China Town in both Boston and NYC.

                        SoBe please get some better Dim Sum!

                        1. Went again yesterday to Jumbo's for Dim Sum and I must confess, this time, it gets my vote over Mr Chu's for the food. However, I cannot get over the smells and the fish tanks. They are very disturbing. I am no vegetarian, but when fish too big for a tank are all collecting on one side for oxygen and laying sideways, I don't necessarily want to eat them. I do find it cruel. While we were there an eel fell on the floor and it created a mini scandal. Now I know many will say this gives the place character, that many Chinese places do it etc etc, but I just don't think it is necessary at all. I don't know if I will be back. Sad, but true ;-(

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: yomyb

                            Based on much positive reporting on the "new and improved" Jumbo, we revisited for Sunday dim sum today. First, the remodeling job is quite an improvement. The place does look a lot cleaner and nicer. The fish tanks out front with live fish, crabs and eels are pretty impressive, though I did note one quite unhappy-looking fish sideways and gasping. Can't imagine all that stress improves the taste either, they ought to put that fish out of its misery.

                            Had baked pork buns, spring rolls, egg custard tarts (the kids' traditional order now), shrimp dumpling, fun gor w/ a filling of shrimp, pork, peanuts (or is it water chestnut?) and cilantro, stuffed bean curd skin, and "five-flavor" tripe. Kids liked the pork buns and egg tarts but were split on the spring rolls (my son liked the unexpectedly meaty filling while his sister did not). Shrimp dumpling was nice and fresh through I thought the wrapper was a bit pasty. Fun gor were tasty, stuffed bean curd skin also decent though I prefer Mr. Chu's. Winner for me was the tripe, very tender and flavorful with a sauce of five-spice and fermented black beans. Disappointed that had run out of soup dumplings, my favorite there.

                            The food definitely has improved from my last visit, and the price was certainly right. I suspect a possible mathematical error but we got all the foregoing for under $20. I'm not committing to a favorite yet but Jumbo is certainly back in the running.

                            1. re: Frodnesor

                              "the remodeling job is quite an improvement"

                              Are you serious? It was actually worse before? It looked old and dirty to me on my recent visit. I can't imagine what it looked like before remodeling.

                              1. re: lax2mia

                                No joke! They repainted, I didn't notice any stained, dripping acoustical tiles on the ceiling - much nicer all around!

                                Look, I just got back from San Francisco and Jumbo was much cleaner than most of the Chinatown dim sum places - but clearly, you don't go for the decor or atmosphere.

                              2. re: Frodnesor

                                Pasty! That's the word I was looking for. I concur. The wrapper on their shrimp dumpling is unfortunately pasty. I don't think there was much of a mathmatical error though (maybe 1 dish) but I usually get out around for that much also ordering about the same things.

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  I'm still recovering from the $80 we dropped at Yank Sing in SF to feed a family of 4 (including 2 kids and a spouse who is not a big dim sum eater)!

                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    I try to warn everyone about that. I don't think Yank Sing is worth the premium. Next time you head back to SF: Koi Palace. They're the definitive word on dim sum in the US (better than LA spots and by far better than NYC/Flushing spots) and it's not marked up ridiculously like Yank Sing. Unless you do decide to spring for the dungeness crab soup dumplings at $28 (spectacular) which is made with an entire dungeness crab.

                                    Hey, if you average the two out, it's about $50.

                            2. OK, I need a little help from my dim-sum loving fellow 'hounds. Prior to the Jumbo revamp, I tried and very much enjoyed their shanghai soup dumplings. They must have changed the dim sum check-off menu, and now I can't find the darn things! The most likely candidate seemed to be"steamed pork bun" but this was char siu BBQ pork in a doughy bun. I know these also go by "xiao long bao" but that doesn't help, as I don't see that anywhere either and sure wouldn't recognize the Chinese characters (though I do take home the menu to study and think I've figured out at least a few!).

                              There is one possible item I haven't tried yet which goes by "steamed baby dumpling," could that be it? (I'm assuming that describes the size and not the contents).

                              I suppose I could just ask, but (a) I do sort of like being surprised by what I order; and (b) they've been so busy the past couple times I've been, I feel fortunate to just get someone to take my order sheet (today was absolutely packed for Labor Day).

                              Can anyone help me find my beloved soup dumplings?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                Frod, I was there maybe 3 weeks ago so unless they've changed it, I thought it was still listed as steamed soup dumpling. I don't know if the recipe has changed but it had imitation crab in it which I really didn't care for.

                                Getting surprised is fun and it lets you explore the menu. But you should just ask next time. Have you tried the pan fried noodles yet? Pretty good.

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  I don't remember imitation crab from when I had it, just gingery ground pork and hot broth. I'll ask next time and see if they've changed the recipe. If so that'd be a bummer.

                                2. re: Frodnesor

                                  Unfortunately there's no standard terminology between Chinese restaurants as to specific dishes and the same dish may have different names at different places, or dishes with the same name can be entirely different. Steamed baby dumpling is a description I've never heard of in the course of visiting thousands of Chinese restaurants, but it could well be soup dumplings since those dumplings are smaller than most other dumplings you'd find at dim sum. But you can never tell. I remember being in Philadelphia Chinatown and seeing "sliced Chinese pancakes" on the menu. Being highly intrigued I ordered the dish but was disappointed to find it was just the wide chow fun rice noodle. But then years later I saw a similarly described dish and indeed it was like an onion pancake that had been cut into strips and stir fried.

                                3. Just wanted to report. Went to Mr. Chu's on Sunday. It was vile and amongst the worst dim sum experiences I've ever had. First off, the place is starting to look run down. Seat cushions, tablecloths, all need to be replaced. Secondly, and most importantly, the food just seemed off. The turnip cakes were burned and when they were reheated were generous with grease. Everything else on the pan fry cart looked limp and as if it'd been sitting for a while (and we were there relatively early). Everytime the steam cart came by we were assaulted with siu mai. It's as if it was the only thing the waitress wanted us to eat. We should've taken her advice. If Mr. Chu's continues like this then I'll be worried about the place. Hopefully this was a one off experience.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: lax2mia

                                    L2M>

                                    Vile? Wow. Duly noted. We hit Jumbo Saturday and every table was full. I vowed to stop posting about any place we like so we can continue eating without pause.

                                    Selfish? Yes. Sorry. But my belly outweighs my conscience.

                                    Fro>

                                    There is one man working the floor at Jumbo; a handsome Chinese gentleman about 55 years old who is the go-to guy if you have questions. He has been explaining the dishes all along to us and apparently he decided it was time to put small photos on the check list. The photos are so awful they may be suitable for framing. Sad thing is - in "simplifying" the menu, some things we liked are gone. I think they may still be available, but they are not on the current photo version of the menu. Saturday we had a "mixed dumpling" that was the shrimp and greens dumpling we liked so much last time (called shrimp and parsley but the parsley was actually cilanto...) The little pork and onion sfogliatelle-shaped cake was MIA too. Everything we could find to order tasted good, but we couldn't find all the things we liked last time...

                                    I don't care. Please stop going to Jumbo so I do not have to wait for a table ever again.

                                    Thanks in advance.

                                    AG

                                    1. re: advisor_Girl

                                      We have been going to Jumbo for years and it has always been crowded on the weekend. The waiter you referred to is excellent. One crowded weekend lunch after their renovation, he told us the kitchen was chaotic and we would be waiting a very long time for our food. He has always been very helpful to us. I enjoy most of their dim sum. Their dumpling soup is a favorite. The Chinese bakery in the same mall has red bean cakes and cream buns as good as SF and NYC. At the same prices!

                                  2. In the interest of completeness, I tried Sang's for dim sum lunch today. Rather than start a new thread I thought I'd keep it here where there's already a good bit of information on Miami dim sum.

                                    As for appearance the place is on par with Jumbo - in other words, simple, bare and a bit run down. Dim sum is check-off sheet style rather than push-kart, also like Jumbo. I got the full gringo treatment, being given fork & knife rather than chopsticks, and having to ask for hot chile oil, etc.

                                    The dim sum menu is pretty much most of the usual suspects. I went with steamed shrimp dumplings, pork shiu mai, steamed fresh pork bun, stuffed bean curd skin, and honeycomb tripe. Everything was passable but nothing stood out. The shrimp dumplings were plump but the wrapper was a little gummy and sticky; the pork shiu mai were dense to the point of being hard, with more than their fair share of hard gristley bits. I was hoping the pork bun was going to be a shanghai soup dumpling and it was close but no cigar. The filling was a fresh ground pork seasoned with ginger in the same style as a xiao long bao, but the outside wrapper wasn't right - instead more like a thinner version of the doughy exterior usually found on steamed roast pork or chicken buns. The stuffed bean curd skin was flavorful but, like the shiu mai, dense and hard.

                                    Prices are cheap as chips like Jumbo (most dim sum between $2 -3). It was OK at best and certainly not as good as any of the other places mentioned in this thread that I've tried.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      WOOT! TWO more dim sum places left for you to try in Miami-Dade (unless if you've already tried South Garden). I stopped by TK Chinese Grocery on Tamiami and realized that Canton Palace was just two stores down. I went in and it was true - they do offer dim sum, in the same style that Kon Chau and Jumbo does. I also noticed that on a Thursday night, more than 75% of the people eating in the restaurant were Asian. That was a good sign. I didn't eat there though since I was already full but I did get the menu to see what they offered - and their dim sum menu is pretty extensive with 69 items.

                                      Has anyone else been to Canton Palace?

                                      Oh and the address of Canton Palace is 7980 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33144. It's actually closer than Kon Chau for the people who lives in Miami Beach. They're open from 11 am to 9:45 pm Mon - Sat, and they're open from 10:30 am to 9:45 on Sundays and holidays. 305-264-9444 is their phone.

                                      1. re: mialebven

                                        Canton Palace is a decent place for dim sum. You order the dim sum off the menu and then it is brought out to you when it is ready. Compared to the other chinese restaurants I have been to, (Kon Chau, Tropical) there are definitely more Asian people eating here. The decor is nothing to talk about so you may not want to bring someone there if you need to impress. My mom prefers Canton Palace to the other restaurants for dim sum and other dishes (I am of chinese descent). I have not tried Jumbo's yet.

                                    2. Does anyone know if Dim Sum is served at Jumbo at dinner time tonight (Friday night)?

                                      If not, how about Sang's? (Craving for some Dim Sum right now if you can't tell..)

                                      6 Replies
                                        1. re: lydiainflorida

                                          I don't see why Jumbo wouldn't - I've never been to Sang's. You order dim sum from a list - and I've done that at Kon Chau at night.

                                          1. re: lydiainflorida

                                            Sang's stops serving Dim Sum at 4 but Jumbo's serves it at dinner.