Kon Chau: My Favorite Miami Restaurant
|Gui Chai, or Chinese chive dumplings, at Kon Chau|
"What's your favorite restaurant?" That question, recently batted around at our weekly editorial meeting, got us all thinking. If we had to choose one top dog at gunpoint, what would it be and why? Each week, a different Short Order blogger will celebrate his or her favorite eatery -- be it celebrity-chef-driven or a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall. Why? Because we're tired of having to explain our favorite dining spots at cocktail parties and weddings.
Kon Chau is a prime example of a hole in the wall. It looks like it was designed in 1988, when nearby homes in Souwesera doubled as stash houses for drug gangs, and hasn't changed since. For a long time its walls were all but bare. Only when it appeared in an Edible South Florida issue with a feature on dim sum did any sort of decoration appear on its walls.
Kon Chau became my favorite before the first tin of Har Gow was dropped during an early visit. Glancing around the dingy dining room I could see it satisfied the "I am the only non-Asian person here" benchmark.
A young Asian couple in their mid-20s sat down nearby, pulled out their own chopsticks and began to twist them together, as you would a high-end pool cue. The man grabbed the dim sum menu (there are no carts here) and began eying his options. His girlfriend shouted at him, snatched the paper out of his hands, jotted down everything she wanted and before the tea hit the table their food was already on the steamer.
I don't know any of the servers', managers' or owners' names here, but we all know each other, and exchange a smile and nod that welcomes me back on each visit.
Dim sum is hotly debated here. It may be due to the limited number of restaurants that offer it, or the large Jewish population along with the people who wish they lived anywhere with a sizable Chinatown. Chef Philip Ho opened about a year ago in Sunny Isles Beach and became a fast favorite. After all they have Xiao Long Bao -- soup dumplings or juicy buns -- which can mean a cult-like following.
Philip Ho is too much of an event. It's too far a drive, and I have to eat everything they have. I have to. Kon Chau is a quick fix. It's a fast lunch with a friend. It's a bowl of duck noodle soup with teaspoonful of chili oil and a pair of Char Siu Bao to rid the ills of a late night. It's a quiet three item, hour-long lunch with a good magazine you read back to front to forget about the week behind or the one ahead.
It's also chili crab and chive flowers, which lack the gimmicks and surpass any taste you'll find just down the road at Tropical Chinese.
Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird.