The goods: With the opening of Mr. Chow at the W South Beach, restaurateurs Michael and Eva Chow bring their trademark glamorous Chinese cuisine and celeb-filled atmosphere to Miami. The Miami location is the fourth addition to the Chow empire (which include two New York outposts, one Beverly Hills restaurant and one London spot) and they’ve spared no expense in bringing their Asian-themed opulence to beachfront hotel.
Ambiance: There’s pleasure in the details here, from plates emblazoned with a design by artist Cy Twombly to a team of waiters outfitted in white jackets and black bow ties to the Chow’s themselves flitting about the room making everyone feel as if they are part one of the couple’s glitzy dinner parties. The 300-seat dining room is a grandiose affair: soaring floor-to-ceiling windows, art from the Chow’s private collection and a 125-foot gold-leaf and Swarovski crystal chandelier designed by Mr. Chow. If an al fresco dim sum feast is more your thing there are private outdoor cabanas with flowing white curtains on the outdoor patio.
The grub: Traditional Chinese fare with a few quirky additions. The Chows opened their first restaurant in the 60’s and the menu hasn’t changed much from those halcyon days when shrimp dumplings and scallion pancakes were considered exotic. The chef in charge is Nick Du, formerly the Executive Chef at “Made In China,” at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Beijing. Expect a hefty bill: dishes are served family style with starters priced $12-$22, mains averaging $30 and sides priced $6 per person. If you’re looking for an authentic Chinese banquet-style meal go for the Beijing Duck dinner, a three-course affair featuring the signature roasted duck and side dishes tailored to order by your server.
Dinner here takes on the clattering chaos of a classic Chinese feast with dishes coming out as swift mutlti-course affairs coordinated by a well-orchestrated staff. Start off with steamed “water dumplings,” stuffed with either pork or sole and a plate of hand-pulled noodles topped with spicy minced chicken. The chicken satay skewers are a specialty of the house, and come topped with a creamy peanut sauce. Mains include the Beijing chicken, nuggets of tender breast meat with candied walnuts in a yellow bean sauce and black cod in a not-too-spicy Sichuan sauce. For sides go with the string beans in XO sauce, a piquant concoction of dried scallops, garlic and cognac.
Desserts veer from Asian territory with a New York cheesecake, a chocolate layer cake and a refreshing lemon almond tart.
Verdict: It’s probably one of the priciest Chinese meals in the city, but you can’t beat the people-watching and swanky atmosphere at the W’s new polished dim sum palace.