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"The cart has hot water, so they can control the temperature and keep the food hot," said Pine Court manager Kaiming Deng. "When the cart comes to your table, it comes at its original temperature."
However, there weren't enough carts to keep up with demand, and at one point, a train of them was lined up by the kitchen to be refilled.
Though the pushcarts are the "traditional Cantonese style," we preferred the à la carte method of ordering at the other two restaurants.
Toa Toa Chinese Restaurant, 4145 Pine Island Road, Sunrise; 954-746-8833; toatoachineserestaurant.com. Open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dim sum daily until 3 p.m.
Baked Pork Buns $3.25
Stuffed Bean Curd Skin $3
Chinese Mustard Greens $4.95
Pine Court Chinese Bistro, 10101 Sunset Strip, Sunrise; 954-748-5958. Open Monday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Dim sum daily 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Taro dumplings $3.25
Chicken feet in black bean sauce $3.25
Soy Sauce Pan Fried Noodles $11.95
China Pavilion, 270 S. Flamingo Road, Pembroke Pines; 954-431-2299. Open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Dim sum daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fun Gor $2.70
Veal with Black Pepper $3.50
"[With] the carts, they make [the dim sum] one or two hours ahead, and that makes a difference," said Tam, of China Pavilion.
China Pavilion was the clear winner in the hole-in-the-wall category. The restaurant sat in the far corner of a sprawling strip mall, and we had to circle several times to find it. Inside, it was dimly lit, with an ornate yet aged-looking red, blue, and gold ceiling. Two rows of fish tanks, one filled with lobster and crab, the other tilapia, sat across the dining room from the entrance. Soon after we sat, freezing drops of water hit our heads and splashed onto the table. We had to slide our table out of the path of the dripping air-conditioning vent before food arrived.
When the small bamboo steamers hit our table, Tam's point was proven. Fun gor ($2.70) came as three blue-white purses filled with diced mushrooms, ginger, scallion, and tiny dried shrimp that gave each bite a briny punch. The highlight, however, was the veal with black pepper ($3.50). A dish we saw nowhere else, more than a half dozen slices of veal ribs, with tender meat and narrow strips of fat on each edge attached to a small bone, came tossed in a thickened soy sauce gravy with just enough pepper to give each bite a hit of spice. When we were done, all that remained was a bowl of cleaned bones and a drop of leftover sauce.
The opportunity to try new things, like those veal ribs, is what gets most hooked on dim sum in the first place. Pine Court manager Deng said items like chicken feet and tripe became popular because there weren't enough of the choice cuts for China's massive population. Not to get too philosophical, but when history comes in an edible form, you have to try it once.