This weekend, while the rest of South Florida opts for bacon and eggs and bottomless mimosas in the morning, you should do something different. You should eat Chinese. Yes, you read that correctly.
In other words, you should dim sum, the Chinese equivalent to the midday meal, served banquet-style where carts and servers deliver plate after plate of delectable dishes like shrimp dumplings, pork buns, egg custard tarts, fried taro, lotus-wrapped sticky rice, and steamed chicken feet.
Do you dim sum? You will now. Simply visit these eight spots, and you'll be a master at South Florida Chinese small plates in no time.
8. Pink Buddha Chinese Restaurant
5949 S. University Dr., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-680-3388, or visit pink-buddha.com.
If you miss New York City Chinese food, Fort Lauderdale's Pink Buddha might be able to cure your homesick cravings. The restaurant will even custom-make your dish to your preferred level of heat. But be warned: The chefs will keep throwing the spices on until your brain pops out of your skull if you let them. Weekend dim sum doesn't offer as many items as some other area dim sum-serving restaurants, but what they do have, they do well, from steamed shrimp dumplings and sesame balls to scallion pancakes and roast pork, beef, or shrimp rice paste.
7. Hong Kong Dim Sum
2363 N. University Dr., Coral Springs. Call 954-227-4688, hongkongdimsum2363.com.
With all the sit-down Chinese dim sum restaurants out there, we thought it necessary to include at least one that offers dim sum in a more convenient, any-time-the-mood-strikes type of to-go option. Don't let this tiny takeout place fool you: The Chinese food is good, from the fried rice to the chow fun. But it's the frozen dim sum, prepared fresh daily, that we're most interested in. There are more than 30 options in all, with choices like shrimp and cilantro dumplings and siu mei (rotisserie-style meats) to steamed custard and pork buns, priced affordably from $3 to $9.50. If you want to eat in, try the dim sum lunch special available from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., where you can get a choice of four selections (an assortment of dumplings, congee, rice paste, and baked buns) for $6.
6. Grand Lake Chinese Restaurant
7750 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-681-1388.
Out west of West Palm Beach, right at the nexus of Jog Road and Okeechobee Boulevard, you'll find one of the few Chinese restaurants in Palm Beach County serving dim sum daily. We're talking about Grand Lake Chinese Restaurant, one spot that's worth carpooling for. There's a list of 60 or so specialties under $10 and at least a half dozen others that can feed an entire table — dishes like whole roast duck, beef chow fun with black bean sauce, and pork pan-fried noodles. Original owners Chloe and Erik Poon hail from New York, which explains why they've been able to win over the pickiest of local Chinese and American foodies. Their steamed-shrimp dumplings are practically dewy, stuffed with big chunks of fresh, salty shellfish. Pan-fried pork dumplings are crisply browned on the outside, and juicy within. And a delectably gluey turnip cake is one of the best around. Everything is beautifully seasoned and right out of the steamer or frying pan. So fresh, you'd swear it came straight from China.
5. Toa Toa
4145 N. Pine Island Rd., Sunrise. Call 954-746-8833, or visit toatoachineserestaurant.com.
Been around decades? Check. Has a cheat sheet to check off your selections? Check. Serves classic, Hong Kong-style dim sum seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.? Check. This timeless Sunrise eatery has been one of the best places to find dim sum in West Broward for more than 25 years, in fact. In that time, it hasn't deviated much from the classic formula: When you sit down in the modest dining room, you're given a menu printed with faded pictures of various dishes and a big yellow card to make your selections. There's no cart, but the dim sum arrives quickly from the kitchen. Start with pork-filled sticky buns, steamed shrimp dumplings, platters of steamed mustard greens finished with a squirt of hoisin sauce, or curry-infused, silky-soft Singapore noodles. Exotic options like duck tongues and chicken feet are available for more adventurous diners.
4. China Pavilion
10041 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines. Call 954-431-2299.
This traditional Chinese restaurant has two menus: the regular Americanized version, and the "red" one that offers authentic Chinese dishes, scribed mainly in foreign characters. You'd never know it from the restaurant's basic décor, however, but you'll hear about it thanks to a big following. Dinner entrées are considered authentic, and attract the South Florida Chinese community for miles. And that's the truth: on busy weekends, when the dim sum menu becomes available for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there appears to be nothing but Asian patrons swarming the tables — and any available standing room. There's no cart; instead, items are sold à la carte, and feature dishes like baked barbecue pork buns, pork dumplings, congee with preserved egg and pork, chicken feet, egg custard dumplings, and fried turnip cake.
3. Real Wok
4640 Hypoluxo Rd., Lake Worth. Call 561-963-7338, or visit realwokdimsum.com.
Don't let the Palm Beach County address fool you: Good dim sum can now be found north of Broward County too. Situated at the back of suburban shopping plaza anchored by a Western Beef you'll find one-year-old Real Wok, a Chinese restaurant serving reduced-priced dim sum seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Whether you choose to eat-in or take-out, doesn't much matter; any time of day you can pick up the plastic-laminated picture menu to order as much dim sum as you like, but prices go up after lunch. Come the weekend, the open dining room has plenty of space between tables to accommodate the carts that roll out, serving up Hong Kong-style small plates like steamed pork buns, shrimp dumplings, and lotus-wrapped sticky rice. For less savory options, try the egg custard tart, fried taro, and Malaysian sponge cake so you can end the meal on a sweetly satisfying note.
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2. Hong Kong City BBQ
5301 N. State Road 7, Tamarac. Call 954-777-3832, or visit hkcitybbq.com.
This 25-year-old Hong Kong-style restaurant in a Tamarac strip mall remains an essential part of any Chinese-food-lovers regular repertoire. Why? This is one South Florida Chinese restaurant that takes its food very seriously: You won't find General's Tao's chicken or beef and broccoli on this menu. Instead, local Asian-food foodies are addicted to Hong Kong City specialities: Chinese BBQ platters, pan-fried noodles topped with various meats and vegetables; chicken and salted fish fried rice; frog leg casseroles prepared in heavy steel dishes; and whole Peking duck. Of course, you want to know more about the dim sum, served daily. There are more than 40 selections in all, everything from water chestnut pudding and donut rice rolls to coconut sticky rice, chicken feet in oyster sauce, and chiu chow fun for (dumplings stuffed with pork, jicama, radish, peanut, chive, and coriander). Of course, you might want to wait for the weekend, when specials like the sate octopus, baked BBQ pork and custard buns, or beef and pork stew are available.
1. Pine Court Chinese Bistro
10101 Sunset Strip, Sunrise. Call 954-748-5958, or visit pinecourtchinesebistro.com.
This longtime South Florida dim sum standby is always bustling on the weekends, with at least a 30-minute wait during peak hours. Here, you'll find ladies pushing carts day in, day out — each filled with authentic dim sum delicacies from pan-friend turnip cakes, fried taro, and siu mai, along with more identifiable options like roast duck, spare ribs, and steamed custard buns. If you can, grab an aisle seat so you're table is in the path of the cart. Next, order to your heart's content; the restaurant offers more than 200 items in all and takes great pride in offering some of the best Chinese food in Broward County. Each dish is cooked according to traditional recipes using authentic preparation methods, serving some of the best Cantonese-style seafood, pork, beef, chicken, and duck around.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.