Best Chinese Take-Out, South - 2012
Operating out of a remodeled gas station on the corner of Coral Way, Confucio Express serves "Chinese gourmet cuisine" created by a bunch of Colombians. Almost a half-century ago, owner José Choi's Chinese immigrant parents landed in Barranquilla, opened a fancy food spot called Jardines de Confucio, and taught their kid how to run a restaurant. He mastered the wok, the deep fryer, and the flat-top grill while shuttling back and forth between the States and Colombia. But for the past seven years, Choi has been a full-time South Florida guy, managing a local outpost of his parents' restaurant in Fontainebleau (10658 NW Seventh St., Miami 33172; 305-228-9272) while also working with the entire Confucio Express crew — including co-owner Carlos Visbal and a superfast kitchen staff — to bang out big batches of Latin-influenced Chinese take-out for Brickell's hungry masses. The ideal order starts with a massive serving of Choi's signature dish, Confucio special fried rice ($13.50), loaded with succulent chunks of sliced barbecued pork, two fistfuls of plump shrimp, and big, juicy cubes of seared ham. Then add some scorching Szechuan soup ($4), six honey-garlic chicken wings ($9.50), crunchy crab rangoon ($7), and a whole pound of spicy Mongolian chicken ($11.80). Of course, you'll have to invite ten friends over to help you finish it all off. These are family recipes — the helpings are huge. Do not eat alone.