Chef and co-owner Josh Marcus had in mind the comforting Chinese food he went out for on Sunday nights as a kid — the soups and dumplings — when he opened Chow Down Grill in Surfside. His tiny storefront serves fresh takes on Asian standards along with chalkboard specials like peppermint-smoked lamb and roasted whole fish. The menu focuses on seasonal ingredients and simple preparations. Our friendly, attentive waitress was quick to point out there’s no MSG or added sugar, and the fryer is used sparingly.
Ambience: The moderate prices and unpretentious setting are a departure from Marcus’ fine-dining past (BLT Steak, China Grill). The long, narrow space is done in dark woods, with a 10-seat bar showcasing the open kitchen, eight tables up front and a few more outside.
- Plump dumplings with tender chicken & slivers of basil
- Shrimp dumplings with fennel and corn in a squid-ink shell
- Chow Down chop salad with Napa cabbage, sliced onion, carrots and cucumbers, grapes and a chile-lime vinaigrette
- Tasty & generous wide rice noodles in a sauce of ginger and hoisin with peppers and rainbow chard
- Eye-catching fried rice with butternut squash, egg and peppers
- Perfectly pink, crispy tea-smoked duck with green curry sauce, served with roasted potatoes and chard
- Flavorful, perfectly-cooked steak with rich Mongolian barbecue sauce
- Banh mi sandwiches with chicken, braised beef or tofu and garnished with pickled carrot and cilantro
- Homey, seasonal pumpkin bread or cinnamon rice pudding
What Didn’t Work
- Crisply fried crab Rangoon overpowered by shellfish
- Bland shrimp
- Slightly fatty barbecued beef-ribs
- Well-textured tofu in a spicy garlic-herb sauce marred by the taste of burned garlic Carrot cupcake with red bean sauce