Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hong Kong Noodles - North Miami Beach

Let's digress from this extended digression into Spain, for a moment, and return to the original theme - Miami eats. The stretch of NE 163rd Street between US1 and I-95 is about as close as Miami comes to having a "Chinatown." It's not particularly a community in any normal sense of the word, but there is a concentration of Chinese restaurants and markets along this stretch of blacktop (as well as some of the more curious ethnic mixes of places within a few square feet of each other that you'll find in South Florida - Chinese bakery / Jamaican roti shop / Jewish deli all in the same strip mall?). For a few years we would occasionally frequent a place called "Jumbo" on the south side across from what used to be called the 163rd Street Mall (the mall's been rehabilitated and is surely called something more interesting now) for dim sum; about a half-year or so ago, Jumbo got something of a makeover and became "Hong Kong Noodles." Since then I've popped in several times, mostly for dim sum lunch. They do menu-style (i.e. no pushcarts, just check off what you want on the photocopied menu) dim sum at lunchtime, along with Chinese bbq (usually some nice ducks and pork hanging from hooks in the back of the restaurant), lots of noodle and congee dishes, plus they have tanks of live fish and seafood (crabs, lobster, a few kinds of fish) and a good number of inscrutable specials written only in Chinese on a white-board on the wall.

I love the possibility of having a dim sum place in North Miami, instead of having to trek down south to Tropical / Kon Chau / South Garden, but our dim sum experiences with "Hong Kong Noodles" have been somewhat up-and-down. On my most recent visit, the standout was a fried shrimp dumpling, wrapped in a triangular wonton, which was freshly fried, plump with moist diced shrimp, and served with a thick sweet mayo for dipping. The fun gor also seemed fresh, and the translucent wrapper had a good texture (substantial but not too gummy), but the filling, ground meat flecked with cilantro and studded with peanuts, seemed to be missing a little something flavor-wise. The pan-fried turnip cake could have been warmer, but was studded with nice bits of smoky sausage. Beef balls wrapped in bean curd had a nice fluffy texture and came out steaming hot, but were also a touch muted in flavor.

On other visits I've had similarly inconsistent experiences. One time the shrimp har gow were outstanding; another time they tasted as if they'd gone off. I've had good stuffed bean curd skins, another time they came out still cold in the middle. Tripe, supposedly with black bean sauce, was bland unless swiped vigorously through some chile oil and soy sauce. The roast duck was pretty good, and I've enjoyed the congee with pork and preserved egg. Their chicken feet were pretty good (though when Mr. Chu's on South Beach was on top of their game, I think theirs were the best in town); I've learned that while I love chicken feet, I'm not nearly as fond of duck feet (though it's nice to have a place where they're available to learn such things, and I chalk this one up purely to a matter of personal taste). They have a number of sweet dim sum options, including "Chinese donuts" (more like a big fried sweet loaf of dough) which Frod Jr. and Little Miss F enjoy.

I've found the staff there to be pretty friendly, and the price is certainly right - almost all of the dim sum items are priced at $2.95 per serving. Plus, there's probably enough exotica on the menu (to say nothing of some good "Engrish" items - "steamed sweat rice," "three nut frog") to keep any adventurous eater busy for a while. I just wish the execution could be a bit more consistent.

Hong Kong Noodles
1242 NE 163rd Street
North Miami Beach, FL
Hong Kong Noodles on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Update - Eek! Restaurant temporarily closed for health violations including "30 PLUS FRESH rodent droppings found IN STORAGE AREA" and "Observed the presence of dead mouse by walk-in cooler. Corrected On Site." Glad they got that taken care of.

    But temporary health department closings have happened to the best of them, even Tropical Chinese last year.