Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Jul 29, 2007 11:46 AM

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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.


                    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!