Food News

Thirty Years of Tropical Chinese: "Chinese Way Is to Fill the Tummy"

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The anniversary celebration of the neighborhood Chinese restaurant was filled with four generations of dim-sum-craving gourmands who've walked through the doors and become more than just customers. They are family and friends.

"Atmosphere and friendship is number one -- after family, of course," Mei says.

When Mei's parents opened Tropical Chinese, they didn't necessarily intend to become one of the best and most authentic Chinese restaurants in the city, let alone the nation. They didn't even speak English (and still don't all too well), but they loved food (and still do).

"They had nothing better to do, so they went for it," says Mei, who at first was hesitant to get involved in the family business. "I ended up coming back because to us, family is most important."

When her brother graduated from college after studying construction, the two decided it was time to continue pushing dim sum, so they expanded the dining room to its current size. Years later, they would remodel it to include a glass-encased kitchen and updated furnishings, but the original flair of Hong Kong is still felt evident from the moment you walk in. Even so with the new mural and 20-foot bar that were unveiled last night as part of 30 years of Tropical Chinese.

The mural, which is the work of local artist Steve Saiz, is a representation of all the things that Tropical Chinese stands for. You'll find palm trees, representative of Florida's tropical climate, which inspired the restaurant's name, as well crimson lanterns, animated dim sum, pineapple, and Peking duck. You'll also see Chinese characters (those stand for family), the word "love," wine (because Mei loves wine), ByeJoe (the national spirit of China), and other symbols to sum up the past three decades.

A step-and-repeat encouraged families, couples, and children to stop and capture memories for the evening. It was a glamorous affair.

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive and today is involved with a tech startup. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.