By David Minsky
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By Bill Wisser
By Laine Doss
By Bill Wisser
By Dana De Greff
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By Zachary Fagenson
Salt-and-pepper preparations of lightly battered seafood are also popular in Hong Kong, and Miss Yip has two. A starter (actually entrée-size) of squid was unimpressive owing mainly to a complete lack of salt. Additionally the calamari chunks were unappetizingly large and overcooked to the point of toughness, while the coating was, somehow, undercooked -- soggy rather than crisp. The salt-and-pepper shrimp were much better, jumbo prawns sufficiently salted with a generous topping of sautéed red, green, and chili peppers. Personally I'd have preferred the shrimp served shell-on instead of shelled, but the authentic preparation, which the restaurant tried in its first days, was evidently a bit too adventuresome for South Beach.
Expensive but worth every cent was Cantonese wok-baked lobster. Served with its shell and arranged around a mound of stir fry, the lobster meat had been butterflied before being flash-sautéed with vegetables in black bean sauce that clearly was made from scratch -- that is, not just processed gravy; whole preserved beans were in evidence. The petite lobster could only have been better had it been twice as big.
Moo shu pork, a Beijing specialty, was somewhat odd. Absent was its characteristic titular ingredient. "Moo shu" means "cassia flower," whose yellow buds are traditionally imitated in this dish by scrambled eggs. Was the absence of egg flowers an attempt at health consciousness? Possibly, since most of Miss Yip's food is also less oily than at average Chinese eateries. At any rate, the shredded mélange of pork, bamboo shoots, tree-ear fungus, and other vegetables did not lack full flavor. It was served with a bowl of hoisin sauce and four thin Mandarin pancakes for wrapping, as our waiter helpfully explained, "like a Chinese Mexican taco."
The real surprise, though, was an order of moo shu vegetables. Over the course of a long relationship with a semi-vegetarian, I've tried meat-free adaptions of countless Chinese recipes that traditionally contain meat: roast duck chow fun without the duck, dry-sautéed string beans without the ground pork, and many nonmeat moo shus. Invariably the vegetarian versions have lacked flavor. Not this one. Masterful spicing made the vegetable version just as robust as the moo shu pork's, and additional fresh veggies made the crunch factor far superior. It was uncommonly good.
Two other vegetable dishes I tried were also wonderful: vibrant, emerald-green Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce (the real thing, not just regular broccoli or broccoli rabe), and Chinese eggplant in an equally succulent sauce with peppers and onions. A tablemate marveled, "I didn't know they could do something this good to eggplant."
Among the dessert offerings, the coconut pudding did not find favor with dining companions accustomed to flan, whose custardy texture was missing. However, the mango pudding, just as lightly gelatinous but tasting somehow richer because of its more aggressive fruitiness, was a huge crowd-pleaser.
No one needs a fortune cookie to see that a winning combination of casually elegant ambiance and very good Chinese food surely means Miss Yip will be attracting crowds.
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