Asian from the Andes

Chifa

Asparagus soup ($2.10) is really just egg drop soup with added chunks of white asparagus. But the broth is more flavorful and less viscous than the Americanized stuff, and the combination of delicate egg strands and the tender vegetable is different but no less appealing than China's original unthickened "egg flower" soup.

Crystal shrimp ($16) was listed as a "Peruvian specialty of the house Chifa style." This dish is generally dissed as "wimp shrimp" by spicy Szechuan food fans, but we ordered it and ended up fighting over the last shellfish, even though there was enough to feed, roughly, Lima. Not spicy but subtly savory, the plentiful medium-large shrimps were cooked perfectly tender, coated with just enough corn flour and egg white to produce the dish's signature shine and seductively silky texture. A knockout.

"House special," a mixture of fresh shrimp, chicken, steamed duck, roast pork, Cornish egg, and assorted vegetables, was a bit bland for our personal tastes. But veggies were crisp, and an application of either of Chifa's two tabletop sauces (beautifully balanced chili and tangy sweet-and-sour) on the plentiful meats and seafood perked it up perfectly.

Chow on mien and salsa, Peruvian style
Steve Satterwhite
Chow on mien and salsa, Peruvian style

Location Info

Map

Chifa Chinese Restaurant

12590 N. Kendall Drive
Kendall, FL 33186

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: South Dade

Details

Open Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.; Sunday 1:30 to 10:00 p.m.
12590 N Kendall Dr (in Shops of Kendall); 305-271-3823.

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Do spring for the fried rice, even if you've overordered; it's the best I've had in Miami. Untainted by common but inauthentic Western ingredients like iceberg lettuce, peas, and supermarket-style boiled ham, the two varieties we tried were so chock full of juicy roast pork and succulent shrimp that their respective prices of $5.10 and $5.95 seemed almost unbelievable. On the other hand, rice this good makes it easy to understand why the Chinese so highly treasure a dish that is often, in the United States, flavorless filler. And it did make it seem especially fitting that the restaurant's name is derived from the Chinese for "to eat" -- chi fan, which literally means "eat rice."

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