There's nothing like the Chinese pass-time of Dim Sum. Dim Sum stems from an old tradition Yum Cha, which the Chinese observe as "tea time." Before the two had linked paths, it was once considered odd for food to be consumed while drinking tea. The Chinese believed that this kind of consumption would lead to unnecessary weight gain until they realized tea would actually help digest the food. Weight consciousness aside, I'm glad they made it part of their culture and are affluent U.S. has been able to get a taste of it.
Normally an early morning to mid-afternoon snack (most places won't serve past 3:30PM), Dim-Sum can definitely be made a meal. With several bite-size yet delectably palatable treats, who could resist just having one of many? Mmm... variations of noodles with meats, chicken, shrimp or vegatable. The very thought of steamed succulent shrimp dumplings has my mouth watering.
How I would love to visit China and sit as a guest with family during Dim Sum time. So far, the closest I've gotten to this is Jing Fong's in New York City. It's always on the top of my to do list every time I visit the NY. Being not much of a shy person, I often mingle with the regulars when I visit this not so little hole in the wall and they seem to be quite pleased with the cuisine. Jing Fong's is pretty big for NY's China Town; usually flooded with neighbors and local vendors on their break. Unfortunately, NY for me isn't a 3 hour drive (one I would happily make on any given day for some good old Dim Sum), but more like a 3 hour flight from my tropical city (Miami). Thankfully Miami is full of diversity and anyone could get a taste of practically anything they want down here. However, the search for some NY quality Dim Sum has been hard.
I've been to numerous Chinese restaurants throughout South Florida and had yet to find a place worth ranting about. Then I was introduced to this wonderful little palace of Chinese decadence in the middle of Westchester; Tropical Chinese Restaurant. Am I going to far? You can be the judge but I'm sure you would agree with me.
I must have passed this restaurant more than a dozen of times. Located in a little shopping plaza, I always thought it would have been some mediocre Chinese spot run by a Spanish speaking staff serving your run of the mill special fried rice and honey garlic chicken. Well, I was obviously wrong.
Now it might not have the same set up as Jing Fong's in NY, with a cluster of tables being circled by carts filled to the top with cartons of steamed or fried treats. However, the decor is charming, the service is great and the food will still come to you by cart; you just a get a little more space and intimacy with your table. As you skim through their elaborate and daring menu of Chinese cuisine, the first page of Dim Sum is a heavenly display of dumpling and noodle combinations. My personal favorites are their "Har Gow": steamed shrimp dumplings, steamed siu mai, chicken pot stickers, fried shrimp wontons, and steamed beef tripe with ginger scallions. Ok, you can grab a kleenex now to wipe the drool off your chin; I understand completely! As if that weren't enough, their jellyfish salad (yes, real jellyfish mixed with crisp cilantro) and szechuan muscles and scallops are to die for!
Just talking about this has me craving and tempted to beat the afternoon traffic down Bird Rd. Dim Sum is definitely a beautiful thing. What is traditional pass time for my Chinese friends has become one of ultimate treats for me.
Tropical Chinese Restaurant: 7991 Bird Road, Miami, FL 33155