By: Cassie Glenn/ Blogger
One might assume quality Chinese food cannot come from Barranquilla, Colombia, but Jose Choi is here to prove us wrong. For over forty years, his parents owned popular restaurant Jardines de Confucio in his hometown of Barranquilla. He wanted to bring their special recipes and cooking style to the United States and opened their first location in Doral five years ago, a replica of the original eatery. Not long after, Carlos Visbal, an old friend of Choi’s, approached him about opening another restaurant in Brickell. After seeing great success in that area, Visbal decided to open a second location in the Grove during summer 2011.
Much like its unique history, the food is not your standard Chinese fare. They use secret
family recipes and serve dishes with a Latin twist made fast and fresh by solely Chinese chefs in the kitchen. The new Grove location also has a “Fitness Menu,” created when Visbal realized that many customers valued eating healthy in this neighborhood.
There are other differences at this spot that you will not find at other outposts. While Brickell thrives on takeout, the Grove location boasts an open kitchen and large dining area with plenty of tables so you can sit down and enjoy your meal fresh and hot. During lunchtime, the place is swamped with neighborhood workers grabbing a midday bite. They have lunch and dinner specials that are perfect for the occasion at $7.99 and $10.99 respectively. Specials change daily (think Veggie Mondays and Chop Sueys Fridays) but each dish comes with a heap of oriental fried rice and a fried spring roll. Prices on their main dishes like orange chicken and beef szechuan come to around $14. This might seem a little high until you realize the portions are meant to generously serve two to three people.
They also deliver within a three-mile radius and are very popular for takeout. Carlos has plans to grow with Kendall, Midtown, South Beach and Aventura in mind for future locations. He is also looking to rollout a mobile application, which fans everywhere can soon have to make ordering even easier.
If you have been weary to try out this new Chinese place in favor of dining spots a little bit more comfortable, now is the time to break away. Whether you opt for dining in, take-out or delivery, go ahead and give Choi’s Chinese food a try. You just might find yourself wanting to fly to Baranquilla to try out the original.
Confucio Express is located at 2982 Grand Avenue