By Sara Liss
The goods: South Beach’s glossy new hotel Gansevoort South welcomes Philippe, the sibling to the New York restaurant of the same name. Chef Philippe Chow spent 25 years honing traditional Chinese recipes at New York’s trend-setting Mr. Chow (no relation). Three years ago the Hong Kong-trained toque struck out on his own with restaurateur Stratis Morfogen to open his namesake restaurant, which quickly became a nightlife staple. Miami now gets a taste of haute Chinese with the opening of this sleek 400-seat shrine to wok-style cooking.
The swanky sinocentric supper club is equal parts glam and gourmand. Shiny red couches, white leather chairs and a lacquered black bar lend an air of Shanghai-chic. Servers outfitted in black Mao jackets and red Converse sneakers proffer steaming lemon-scented hand towels post-meal, while a nightly noodle show amps up the dinner-theater drama. It’s all about the scene here, with a loud, clubby vibe that’s more suited to chatting up your neighbors than softly conversing with your date. The two-story space features an upstairs lounge with views of the gleaming kitchen below and a private all-black wine cellar room that can accommodate 30 diners.
The grub: Traditional Chinese cuisine tweaked for American palates. Unlike your neighborhood Chinese takeout, all the food is MSG-free and the noodles are made fresh by a resident noodle chef. The menu is also considerably pricier than your local Chinese dive. Cocktails average $20 and starters range from $12-$25. Main dishes are served for two, so portions and prices are doubled ranging from $42 for chicken and broccoli to $85 for Red King crabs in garlic or butter sauce.
Most of the mains focus on wok-based stir-fry dishes such as Kung Pao chicken in a spicy peanut sauce, crispy beef and sweet and sour pork. Make sure to try chef Chow’s signature dishes like the chicken satay skewers, dyed orange from carrot juice and smothered in a creamy peanut sauce, and the "green prawns" dyed with fresh spinach. The legendary Peking duck is served tableside with skin crispy enough to please many a duck skin fanatic.
Desserts like ginger "New York" cheesecake, red velvet cake and coconut ice cream are refreshing caps to the Asian feast.
The verdict: With its approachable menu of classic Chinese dishes and nightlife-friendly atmosphere, Philippe is the spot to be seen this summer.
Philippe, 2305 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-0250