A Fork on the Road

Vietnamese-born, Israeli-raised chef mans kosher Chinese kitchen


If you go

Place: China Beach Kosher Chinese Restaurant

Address: 3919 Alton Rd., Miami Beach

Contact: 305-534-3034, chinabeachkosher.com

Hours: Noon-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday

Prices: Appetizers $2.50-$9.95, soup $3.95-$7.95, entrees $8.95-$25.95


Celery and Tofu Salad with Scallion Oil

This recipe adapted from joyofkosher.com uses fried tofu, which is available in Asian markets. You can substitute baked tofu from a health food store or drained and pressed firm tofu.

8-ounce package fried tofu

6 ribs celery, washed and any tough strings pulled off

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 scallions

1 large garlic clove, smashed

1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped

Cut tofu into thin strips and place in a serving bowl. Cut celery on the diagonal into long, thin pieces and add. Place oil, scallions, garlic and ginger in a blender or food processor and puree. Pour over the celery and tofu and sprinkle with salt to taste. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 260 calories (71 percent from fat), 21.7 g fat ( 2.8 g saturated, 4.4 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 10.5 g protein, 9.2 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g fiber, 60 mg sodium.


With the craze for pork belly, it is refreshing to dine in the pork-free zone of China Beach Kosher Chinese Restaurant, where large portions are reasonably priced and cooked to order. You can watch chef Long Phung at work in the open kitchen, stirring sizzling woks with long spatulas in each hand.

Protein choices include chicken, beef and tofu in stir-fries, noodle dishes, coconut curries and fried rice. There are also several vegetarian dishes such as mu shu wraps and broccoli or eggplant in garlic sauce.

The chef left Vietnam as a child with his family on a boat to the Philippines. Soon after arriving, the family traveled on to Israel where they learned Hebrew and became citizens. Long Phung grew up in the Chinese restaurants his family ran in Tel Aviv, and served in the Israeli Army. He and his Vietnamese-Israeli wife emigrated to Miami 14 years ago, and he worked in various Chinese restaurants. When his neighbor Simon Benhaim opened China Beach, he came on board as chef.

Start with fried guacamole or pastrami egg rolls, steamed chicken dumplings or chicken wraps in iceberg lettuce. Ma po tofu brings steamed cubes of bean curd in spicy bean paste sauce with snow peas, bell peppers and water chestnuts. Ma po means “crater faced old lady,” referring to the pock-marked originator of the Sichuan dish, who sold it from a street cart a century ago.

Kung pao chicken, stir-fried with peanuts, chiles and vegetables, is named for a Sichuan governor known as kung pao, or “palace guardian.” General Tso’s chicken, battered and fried breast nuggets in spicy sweet and sour sauce, honors a famous military commander. Variations here include honey garlic, lemon, orange and sesame.

There’s also grilled spare ribs with sweet barbecue sauce, chicken lo mein and wide chow fun rice noodles with beef.

The sole dessert is vanilla ice cream, as straightforward as the place.

Miami food writer and personal chef Linda Bladholm can be reached at lbb75@bellsouth.net.

Miami Herald

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