Chef Philip Ho in Sunny Isles Beach is as good as it gets

View a slide show of Chef Philip Ho.

Chinese dim sum restaurant Chef Philip Ho debuted in Sunny Isles Beach a little more than a month ago, and already the name is burning on the tongues of local food trenders like too much Chinese mustard. Ho hit the social-network jackpot: Chowhounders, Yelpers, bloggers, and tweeters posted instant reviews, whose extrapolation would read like a rallying cry — Go to Ho!

If you like Chinese food, this is very good advice indeed.

Philip Ho is no stranger to Asian fare with flair. He worked as the Setai's dim sum chef for about five years. His new namesake space, where the Emerald Coast used to be, has none of the Setai's beauty or grace. It looks as though he is in the process of transforming the sprawling rooms from Chinese buffet to a more à la carte-appropriate setup. Let's just say that for the time being, nobody will go for the ambiance.

Chef Philip Ho's dim sum three ways. See more photos.
Chef Philip Ho's dim sum three ways. See more photos.

Location Info

Map

Chef Ho

16850 Collins Ave., 106A
Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: North Dade

Details

Chef Philip Ho

305-974-0338
Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Chicken basil dumplings $6.95
Udon noodle soup $12.95
Tea-smoked duck with green curry sauce $20.95

View a slide show of Chef Philip Ho.

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What they will flock to, among other things, is some of the best dim sum in town. During most time periods, selections are listed on the regular menu according to size: small ($2.95), medium ($3.50), and large ($3.95). On weekends from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., however, the carts are rolled out — which is of course the preferred manner (what you see is what you get).

View a slide show of Chef Philip Ho.

Dim sum aficionados cherish their own favorite selections, and though Ho might not have all the traditional items you desire, the ones trotted out are uniformly impressive. My guests were a couple of diners with dim sum-eating resumés that stretch from New York's Chinatown to West Dade's Tropical Chinese, which has long served as the local benchmark for dim sum. I haven't been to Tropical in some time, but the chow on Ho's carts seems fresher and even a little less greasy than what I remember at the Bird Road mainstay.

We started with a sizable bowl of congee, which isn't offered often in these parts. The white, farina-like rice porridge came flecked with pork. My dim sum slummers were humming with a joy that didn't dim during the barrage of bites to come.

The green of fresh herbs poked through semitranslucent, lightly pan-seared wrappings of chive and shrimp dumplings, which also exuded a strong garlic presence. Steamed green-tea duck dumplings and shrimp with dried scallop dumplings were likewise fresh and potently flavored, while steamed scallop dumplings dotted with black truffle were out of this world — a real surf-and-turf contrast in each bite.

A different type of dumpling comes via steamed rice crêpes (cheung fan) — really rice noodles — wrapped around various fillings (or served straight up, Hong Kong-style). Shrimp is the most popular rendition, and one I recommend over what is widely known as a "doughnut" crêpe but here referred to as a "fried flour stick" — by whatever name, the crisp fried batter makes for a dull, dry noodle mate. Spring rolls — papery wrappings around shredded pork ­— don't excite much either. "Barbecued spare ribs" are not what some diners might imagine. They are served as hacked pieces of bone encircled by chewy, flavorfully braised meat — like six pieces of mini pork osso buco in a thin and somewhat spicy black bean sauce.

My dim sum dinner mates deemed only two dishes below par: The fried coating on the taro cakes wasn't as puffy or shredded-wheat-like as they have found elsewhere, and shumai (dumplings filled with pork, shrimp, mushrooms, ginger, and garlic) didn't measure up to those at Tropical. The two waxed nostalgic about some NYC shumai that came capped with thin slices of Chinese sausage.

The non-dim sum portion of the menu knocks it out of the park as well, starting with thin hand-pulled noodles coated and threaded with chopped shiitake mushrooms. We also relished a lean loin of honey-sweetened barbecued pork, whose tender, red-hued meat was sliced thinly and evenly as though put through a large egg slicer.

A dish of house-made tofu and eggplant in black bean chili sauce is alone worth the drive. Large squares of the curd, fried on the outside and deliriously custardy within, are tossed with soft spears of slender purple Asian eggplant in just enough sauce to coat. This tofu is totally different from what you get at the market; it will turn a hater into an enthusiast. Ma Po tofu is similar but without the eggplant.

Two of the most stunning tastes come via dessert-like offerings. Upon biting into an egg custard tart boasting a buttery crust hot from the oven, you might think it can't get any better. It can. Try the same tart with the added allure of black truffles. And then finish with a steamed egg custard lava bun — the ball of light white dough oozing with thick, sweet, orgasmic egg yolk filling.

View a slide show of Chef Philip Ho.

On a dinnertime visit, we sampled a dessert of warm, sweetened rice congee colored and flavored with red goji berry and speckled with tapioca pearls.

Service is fairly solid albeit a bit discombobulated at times. After a request for soy sauce and chili sauce accompaniments for dumplings that our waiter forgot, two workers arrived simultaneously with sauces in hand. And it appeared as though the dim sum carts were traveling about the dining room without any set course; we must have waited 20 minutes for the custard tarts and other sweet options to roll our way. But, as already stated, this place has been operating for just more than a month. Dim sum carts will surely run smoother after waiters rack up some miles on the carpet.

So I add my voice to the chorus of praise: For neighborhood Chinese fare, Chef Philip Ho is as good as it gets. You might want to work your way over there before all of this adulation goes to Ho's head.

 
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11 comments
MoonD0gy
MoonD0gy

The food is is good for south florida but barely acceptable compared to NY, LA, TO. We've been there a few times, and it's fairly consistant. The staff were good and professional. The first time we went we found it pricey, The second time the prices were reduced and more competitive. I would recommend dim sum. We will definitely return. I am asian, so I know dim sum. Teh harGow, siuMia, pork ribs, BBQ buns were good. The sticky rice in lotus leaf sucks. Eggs tarts were acceptable but need torch to carmalize the custard.

Jasmin
Jasmin

Really good food!!! I was very satisfied with the service very friendly. The food portions were really big. Hug shims :) my favorite was Honey Walnut Prawns and Mongolia Beef. We were there for a birthday and they have a table that u put everything in the middle and can rotate so everybody can share easier u just rotate it to get the plate u want without bother anyone to pass the plates.

michael wind
michael wind

its ok for local middle level russian mobster living in sunny isles beach.

wokstar
wokstar

I'm going to stick my oar in on this one. Admittedly, I've only been once so far but will return for weekend dim sum to try push cart and others not available from menu. Maybe because I'm Asian but I thought service was very courteous unlike Tropical (pushy & loud plus they insist my fav Stuffed Taro comes COLD, really???) I totally agree with Lee that Tropical's dim sum and food is way greasy. As to Phillip Ho's dim sum: ones I tried were not bad, not good yet but their dumpling skins/dough need working on. I'm surprised they opened without getting the most basic DOWN. I found the truffle dumpling way too underwhelming, couldn't even taste truffle for that price! And I really hope the staff improve their English and knowing what's on the menu because I couldn't remember how to say Stuffed Taro in Cantonese! It's the most common dim sum item. I've since made a note phonetically for my next visit!

dimsumbaby
dimsumbaby

We love your writing and your reviews, but comparing Chef Philip Ho to real dim sum is like comparing McDonalds to (the local equivalent) to Prime 112, or maybe its betters in NY.) We really liked the food< and the service was as good as you could expect, under the circumstances. This is not Hakkasan! Thank goodness. Prices were very reasonable Of course, we did not try everything, but we were very happy with out experience. We have eaten dim sum all over MIA, as well as most European capitals, most Asian foodie centers (including PRC, TYO, TPE, HKG, SHA, SIN), and most of North America. In the US, the San Gabriel Valley is hands down the champion. Nothing here compares with that. BUT THIS IS REALLY QUITE GOOD! We look forward to trying it again. THIS IS A WINNER!

Dim Sum Donna
Dim Sum Donna

I am a huge fan of dim sum, and I found this restaurant to be an utter disaster. The restaurant was hot and musty, and there was a weird fishy smell. The carts were very scarce. In twenty minutes, only two went by. And the two that did amble by in their haphazard manner did not have an extensive selection of dim sum to offer. They were pushing the same dumplings around. Nor were we given the opportunity to order off the menu by the indifferent waitstaff. (I asked several times if we could do so.) After twenty minutes and one order of mediocre shrimp dumplings, my companion and I left quite hungry. (And hot since it seemed as if the AC wasn't working either.) Normally, I do give restaurants a second chance -- but not this one. I'll stick to Tropical for my dim sum cravings, thank you.

C. K. Kao
C. K. Kao

I wonder that you are working for Tropical Chinese Restaurant.They are not that bad as you think. Since their grand opening, I've been going there for three weekends in a row, and I would rate they have the best Dim Sum in South Florida. Tropical ChineseRestaurant has been serving good Dim Sum for years, I've been their guest since day one; their menu has never changed. This new restaurant offers many new variety dim sum. It is worth a try.C.K.Kao

Fernie B
Fernie B

I stick To Kon chau for my dim sum needs. very reasonable prices..good food not so good ambiance... but it does makes me feel im in china since everybody there, including their customers are chinese

C.K. Kao
C.K. Kao

Kon chau and chef Philip Ho are same owner and same chef. Philip Ho just decide to upgrade his business and open this upscale dim sum restaurant.

Nlcooper
Nlcooper

Its garbage

C. K. Kao
C. K. Kao

If this is garbage food, thenI really don't know what kind ofGourmet food you have eatenC.K. Kao

 
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