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May 20, 2008 01:20 PM

Dim Sum in Miami?

I just moved to Miami from Chicago two weeks ago and I'm craving Dim Sum. The reports I'm hearing so far aren't very hopeful. I've heard that the better (i.e. more authentic) Chinese is in Aventura or the suburbs (which I'm happy to drive to on the weekends), but the places my boyfriend has tried (such as Miss Yip) he found pretty disappointing.

So in a town without a real Chinatown, where do you get Dim Sum?

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  1. South Garden on Sunset and about 112th avenue is excellent. They do the carts on weekends. Kon Chau is also very good but does not do the carts and is a hole in the wall.

    1. typical top contenders for Miami are Tropical, South Garden, Kon Chau
      other discussed places are Jumbo, Canton Palace, Sang's, (China Pavilion, Toa Toa as you go up north)
      not looked upon favorably -- the sobe places
      other chinese restaurants: Peppers (very good but up north), Lung Gong (hole in the wall), King Palace BBQ, Hong Kong City BBQ (up north), Silver Pond (mini asian strip mall)

      3 Replies
      1. re: ankimo

        I've been meaning to try Jumbo for lunch, as I'm in that neighborhood often. I don't know much about dim sum though. What are my best bets there?

        1. re: Nick


          There is an older gentleman who waits on tables there who is friendly and very helpful. He speaks perfect English and can help you navigate the little photo menu. Much depends upon your tastes and willingness to explore. You can order just a few steam baskets of dumplings (the tiny steamed shrimp are nice or pan fried pork or baked or steamed pork buns) and then try the chow fun or the seafood noodles ... AAArgh! Now I am hungry and nowhere near there!


          1. re: advisor_Girl

            Thanks for the suggestions. I'm definitely willing to explore.

      2. This thread hasn't been updated for a few months but still probably has the most and best information on Miami dim sum options ->

        There's links within that thread to a 4-way taste test between the most frequently mentioned candidates ->

        Only significant update to the info in those threads is that I've found the quality at Mr. Chu's on South Beach to have gone downhill on more recent visits.

        There's nothing I'm aware of in Aventura, probably thinking of the stretch along 163rd St. between Biscayne Blvd. and I-95.

        1 Reply
        1. Tropical Chinese for Dim Sum. The cart ladies are fast and furious. I once had food on the table before my ass even hit the seat! Food is excellent and if you like bowling there is Bird Bowl right down the street and its not expensive like Lucky Strike. The old shoes and pitchers of beer with bags of ice in them are classic.

          Tropical Chinese Restaurant
          7991 Bird Rd, Miami, FL 33155

          Bird Bowl
          9275 SW 40th St, Miami, FL

          8 Replies
          1. re: Blind Mind

            Agree-Tropical-Fast Carts, and an open kitchen (!) so you know stuff's fresh-very unusual for a Dim Sum parlor. Spots on 163rd St., like Jumbo's and Sang's, are not making fresh dim sum.

            1. re: Miami Danny

              Miami D
              What do you mean by not making fresh dim sum. Are you saying they are frozen or steamed earlier and left on a steam table? I've eaten at Sang's recently and their dim sum tasted good and seemed freshly cooked to order.

              1. re: Vee7

                I don't believe that every dim sum menu contains freshly made items-that is certainly true of both Sang's and Jumbo. Freshly made wrappers, freshly made fillings, and cooked to order. That's not happening at either place. The last time I ate at both places, it was obvious that some items were not freshly made.

                1. re: Miami Danny

                  Thanks so much for all the recommendations! I had a great lunch today at East Ocean in North Beach and got some of these same recommendations, although nowhere near as many. I'm sorry to hear about Mr. Chu's, since that was a name that came up. I'm also looking for a fish market -- or any market -- to buy fresh fish. I know about Fresh Market and Whole Foods in Coral Gables -- any other suggestions? I might be naive, but being in Florida, it just seems to me like there should be something truly local, somewhere other than a chain grocery store, even a good one.

                    1. re: winegirl1973

                      Casablanca Fish Market is great for fresh fish at a good price. Sea Scallops at $9.95/lb are a great value as well.

                      1. re: Blind Mind

                        We love dim sum. We tried Sang's today, had high expectations but it was not good. Dim sum was not even close to Tropical or Mr. Chu's in flavor or quality. Very disappointed. The siu mai was so dense it was like a hard ball. Never again!

                        1. re: Blind Mind

                          Most definitely Casablanca...located right on the river, the boats pull in there each morning with the fresh catch. Snapper (all kinds), Mahi, Kingfish, and Grouper are some of the usuals as well as all mollusks and crustaceans.

              2. As a former resident of NY who had dim sum in Chinatown on different occasions, I can safely say that Tropical Chinese is excellent for both dinner and dimsum. It's on Bird Rd just off the Palmetto Expressway.

                16 Replies
                1. re: tiodamon

                  Absolutely agree. I've eaten a lot of dim sum in Chinatown (NYC) and I tell everyone down here that Tropical Chinese beats them all. The only thing I don't like about the Dim Sum at Tropical is I don't get to have the Peking Duck which, again, is better than I've had anywhere in NYC.

                  1. re: nikklos

                    Sorry, I like tropical but it does not beat the best NYC has to offer.

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      Give me your best and I will try to make an argument on how Tropical stands up. Sure Chinatown has some good Dim Sum but for the most part it is either orfdinary food served with indignation or the banquet halls where they sit you with couples gnawing on chicken feet.

                      1. re: nikklos

                        I like the dim sum at tropical, but at times I have been given cold dim sum there so that is a minus for them. I have not had dim sum in ny for about 2 years now so I don't feel qualified to compare restaurants directly on the ny end, though I did like dim sum a go go better for dim sum and peking duck house for peking duck.

                        Also, keep in mind that you said NYC, which includes all 5 buroughs. Not only chinatown...

                        When they first opened, Mr. Chu was better than Tropical, but they have since declined, probably due to the lack of support, which is unfortunate.

                        1. re: tpigeon

                          I have heard great things about the Peking Duck House. The thing about Tropical is I always took some measure of satisfaction that we here in Miami had at least one restaurant that could serve up examples of its particular cuisine on a par with what can be had in NYC - solely based on my own experience and opinion, of course.

                          1. re: nikklos

                            We beat the pants off of nyc in argentinian, peruvian and colombian.

                            1. re: tpigeon

                              Have to admit, never had anything the likes of Graziano's in Manhattan. Heck, may as well skip Manhattan and just hang out on Bird Road.

                            2. re: nikklos

                              BTW don't get me wrong. I really like tropical and I do think it would do just fine in NYC, maybe not the best, but would hold its own.

                              1. re: tpigeon

                                Really? I wouldn't think Tropical could hold its own in Monterey Park, much less the vaunted NYC. Some of the stuff seems premade and/or frozen. I like it, but there's much better out there.

                                1. re: lax2mia

                                  Now youre really reaching L2M. They have an open kitchen where you can watch them prep and cook and Ive never tasted anything there that seemed premade or frozen. Everyone is different. Some like Tropical, some dont. I really enjoy the food there, dim sum or not. Lets leave it at that.

                                  1. re: Blind Mind

                                    That open kitchen is the coolest thing and really does set Tropical apart from most other Chinese places.

                                    1. re: Blind Mind

                                      There's just something about it. Friends from out of town have thought the same thing w/o me even mentioning anything. The shu mai look too uniform. Same with the leek dumpling. I've looked through that kitchen window many times and I've never seen them making dumplings. They're stir frying like crazy, but I've never seen them actually prepping dim sum. If you have then that's good enough for me, but there's just something sketchy about it.

                                      1. re: lax2mia

                                        With all the talk about dim sum, and a chance errand that took us to the western reaches of Miami, we mid a pit stop at Tropical for an early lunch. I was hoping to get a table with view of the open kitchen and bam, the hostess sat right at the first table with view of the full kitchen.
                                        Whilst there we saw the woks going fast and furious, the noodles being freshly prepared from a huge block of dough, but what we couldn't see was the dim sum prep. I figured with all the different kinds of dim sum there'd at least have to be a small army of cooks just making dim sum. Maybe they're in a further, out of sight part of the kitchen where we couldn't see. We did see the salt and pepper shrimb and squid being prepared and plated and a few seconds later a cart come out of the kitchen with the plates of crispy crustaceans but unfortunately the steamed and fried dim sum prep remains a mystery.
                                        As for the experience, we found the pan fried food greasier than usual (why should the entire leek dumpling be greasy if only the bottom is pan fried?) though the steamed dumplings were good.

                                        1. re: lax2mia

                                          My yearly complaint about Tropical -- particularly greasy. I have eaten greasy Chinese food in China, but the Dim Sum I have eaten in traditional places there was never greasy. As a result, I prefer South Garden though it has been a while.

                                    2. re: lax2mia

                                      Truth is, there are lots of places that do just fine in chinatown nyc that don't have good food at all.

                                      1. re: lax2mia

                                        Tropical is among the top in Miami, but it wouldn't be among the top in LA or NYC.