When searching for a traditional Chinese restaurant, Western diners often take the presence of Chinese customers as a good sign. West Miami-Dade's Chinese Guy is beloved by the countless Chinese students who attend the University of Miami and Florida International University. The eatery's owners are Tianjin natives Kun Bao and Yanan Cai, who just happen to be PhD students at FIU. When Bao arrived in Miami in 2010, he and his Chinese classmates quickly realized there was no place serving the food they grew up on. A few years later, that problem seems a distant memory. Northern Chinese dishes such as slender shreds of braised pig ears doused in ripping-hot chili oil ($7.95) come flying out of the kitchen. Buttery lobes of tilapia ($11.95) are poached with wood ear mushrooms, leaving the pearly-white flesh soft and floating in a pool of seasoned oil punched up with a hint of rice wine. A handful of scallion slivers and grated ginger are thrown in at the last moment, offering a pop of spice and nose-tickling perfume. The delights never seem to end: Corn or pumpkin cubes are fried in rich, salty duck egg batter ($12.95); sticky pig trotters are braised in sweet soy; and a heap of meaty rib tips come perched atop sticky rice ($8.95). This Chinese Guy will leave you begging for more.
Readers' choice: Tropical Chinese