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Jul 31, 2008 12:05 PM

Authentic Dim Sum Carts

Does anyone know of a place in S. Fla that serves dim sum traditionally, from a cart? I know of a couple of good places where you can order off of a menu, but there's nothing quite like having those carts roll by with those steamers full of mysterious goodies, wafting scents to tempt the palate...

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  1. Tropical Chinese has awesome cart ladies and great chow.

    Tropical Chinese Restaurant
    7991 Bird Rd, Miami, FL 33155

    1 Reply
    1. re: Blind Mind

      Man, I was born and raised in Miami/North Miami, but that was the dark ages for foodies in Florida, now it seems all the great food is down there. Ah well, dim sum carts are well worth a destination meal anyway. Thanks for the info, we'll try it.

    2. Strangely around the world, including California and Canada, the new face of dim sum, particularly the more refined, modern version is menu ordered dim sum. In Vancouver, the Chinese food capital of North America, you can hardly find cart dim sum. While cart dim sum is still the majority in Los Angeles, virtually all of the newly opened dim sum restaurants are menu order. The advantage of dim sum off the menu is that it's fresh, as opposed to the cart version which may circulate for a long long time. Also no carts mean narrower aisles and more tables. Of course there is also the ambience of seeing the carts rolling around and not knowing what's coming on the next truck. But from a culinary point of view I'm made the switch and think dim sum from the menu is better.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chandavkl

        That's a very valid point. I hadn't looked at it that way. Maybe I was too wrapped up in the authenticity and ambiance to see beyond it. From a culinary viewpoint hot & fresh beats old & cold hands down!

        1. re: mrschef1

          It took me a while to accept the concept of menu ordered dim sum as historically (at least in California) only the least authentic dim sum came from menu driven restaurants. I think my acceptance was speeded up because the practice became so common in California and Canada, but there are many casual dim sum eaters who have yet to appreciate the benefits of dim sum off the menu.

      2. I think Tropical is the only decent dim sum experience in SoFla, so I'll second the recommendation.

        One of the free mags (New Times I think) dethroned tropical in a recent annual round up, naming a place much closer to me on 163rd Street, and I so wished it would be good, but it was gross.

        1 Reply
        1. re: non sequitur

          New Times Best Of is notoriously unreliable. Year before last they named a nondescript Middle Eastern place, Maroosh, as having the Best Wine List. It is positively one of the most uninspired wine lists I have ever seen in my life (unless you call having several different varietals of Kendall-Jackson "Vintners Reserve" inspired).

          Jumbo on 163rd St. used to be one of the few places you could get xiao long bao, but they're off the menu and the rest of the dim sum is unfortunately mediocre.

          Mr. Chu's in South Beach was quite good for a time but has gone downhill and I've not been back for several months.

          I've also liked South Garden, a little further south than Tropical.

          About a year ago a poster did a great dim sum taste-off of several of the Miami options, threads are compiled here and in another post within ->

        2. grand lakes on jog road palm beach area very good very cheap a real find. i drive 25 miles round trip passing others such as china dumpling ok overpriced and shainghi express no carts grew up near chinatown nyc lived in san francisco and grand lakes is the real deal enjoy

          1. Tropical is the only dim sum joint with carts I've encountered in SoFla other than a place on Sunrise and University in Broward that closed about a year or so ago.

            Good reports on the China Dumpling in Boynton (have had lunch and dinner there, but not weekend dim sum).

            No carts (but good dim sum) at China Pavilion in Pembroke Pines, ABC in Deerfield and Toa Toa in Sunrise.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Rockin Rich

              I am pretty certain South Garden has cart service. So does Mr. Chu's on South Beach (though I was disappointed in my last few visits).

              1. re: Frodnesor

                South Garden does (did?) have carts, as well as quite a few "specials" you need to know to order to get freshly made, such as the salt squid.

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  Mr. Chu does have two carts, which I guess minimally qualifies.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    Confirming that South Garden does have cart service. Though I won't call their dim sum great. But then I and my friends don't care for Tropical which we know are very popular - their ingredients are just low quality.

                    "a place on Sunrise and University in Broward" - I think you may mean BBQ City? I've heard it's reopened and offered dim sum again.

                    As for dim sum vs carts: even in HK and Toronto, most places are ordered by menu. Carts are considered old fashioned. Food arrives fresher and even if you sit far from the kitchen you always get the food you like, steaming hot.

                    1. re: tarepanda


                      1. re: marky123

                        While I understand the desireability of having dim sum made fresh to order, I also enjoy the ritual of the carts and the semi-random nature of the dining experience. And it's true, I've tried several things I might not have otherwise ordered as a result of having a chance to eyeball them. Particularly if you face a language barrier, it is often much easier to see and point than to order off a printed menu. Thus the proliferation of menus w/ pictures on them, but you can't smell a picture.

                        1. re: Frodnesor

                          Carts are an underused concept in modern restaurants. I always thought that it would be great to have a place where they bring the food to you. Imagine BBQ, dim sum style. They just bring by carts with meat and sides. You pick what you want and eat right away.

                          As for dim sum, the best I've had in the US is at New Concept in the LA area. They made xiao long bao and everything else fresh to order and it was fantastic. On a recent trip to Seattle at Jade Garden, we ordered about 50-50 from carts and from the kitchen. I won't eat dim sum in Miami anymore as what I have tried was horrible. It wouldn't matter if they served it from carts or the kitchen (This includes Tropical, Jumbo and Chu's.)

                          1. re: scscr

                            I suspect the lack of carts in other cuisines is tied to the same issue of cart vs. menu dim sum--you're talking about food that isn't totally fresh unless you're the first stop as the cart leaves the kitchen. Not sure if that's something most people would stand for outside of the dim sum context. Note that New Concept is no longer in business, though the replacement, Elite Restaurant, is of equal quality though with a different menu.

                            1. re: scscr

                              Barbecue dim sum, hum...sounds a little like Brazilian Churrasco.