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Confucius Chinese Cuisine

/ Updated on April 4, 2017
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My first review of Confucius was posted here at RehobothFoodie.com on October 18, 2009. So I’ll get straight to the point: Confucius is still batting a thousand. Like all restaurants in all price ranges, it has its occasional ups and downs, but it is still one of the best and most consistent restaurants in Rehoboth Beach. Owner Shawn Xiong and his beautiful wife Danielle operated a restaurant in Wilmington for 11 years before opening Confucius on Memorial Day in 2004. To this day, they make a point of greeting every visitor to this understated gem of a restaurant. And I’ll share this with you: After my very first visit there (part of a loud, drunken birthday group of over 15 people), Shawn remembered me by my voice on the phone – and I wasn’t even one of the loud ones!

Needless to say, Confucius still occupies a place on my (very) short list of restaurants where I take guests whom I absolutely do not want to disappoint. In fact, it’s one of my “go-to” places when I am not in the mood to take notes, record my scattered thoughts and take food photos (much to the horror of my dining companions). I know it will be good every time. By the way, though it’s all the rage in Rehoboth to change one’s menu every 5 minutes, Shawn’s is pretty consistent. And that’s a good thing. It’s nice to get into the car, arm-wrestle yourself a parking space, go into your favorite restaurant and find exactly what you had a hankerin’ for.

However, one of the reasons for this updated review is that Shawn actually did add some things to the menu. Though that might actually be one of the 7 signs of the Apocalypse, it took him almost a year to try things, change them, try them again on his faithful guests, change them again, lose sleep over them … and finally add them to the menu. So there are some new goodies to be tried at Confucius. They have been woven into the text below.

OK. Now let’s get down to business:

First off, don’t miss the Spicy Cold Noodles. Covered in a light, spicy sauce (with a dollop of fiery Sriracha on the side), they are simply delicious. I could order two and make them a main course. I’ve also had the Salt and Pepper Calamari and the Salt and Pepper Shrimp. Both are great. The calamari requires a bit more explanation: Rather than slicing the mantle of the lucky little cephalopod into the traditional “rings,” Shawn keeps about 2 or 3 inches of the body intact and fries it in a light, salty/peppery batter until each piece is crunchy with a firm, non-rubbery bite. That wonderful salt & pepper preparation may also now be ordered as a Salt & Pepper Seafood Combo: shrimp, calamari and the newest addition, firm, snow white grouper. Each protein is well-prepared using Shawn’s secret salty/spicy coating and fried to a delicate crisp. Accompanying diners also loved the coconut shrimp, the Curry BBQ Beef Sticks and the Pan-Fried Pork Dumplings. I like the “thick skin” variety for the light crunch and firm texture.

Another brand new appetizer on the menu is the Pork Dumpling Soup. How he manages to keep that dumpling firm in the liquid is beyond me, but the panoply of textures and tastes makes it all worth it. And it is a great value at only $7.50. Yet another new appetizer is the Spicy Hunan Pork Belly. You can’t throw an eggroll anywhere in Rehoboth Beach without hitting some preparation of pork belly. Pork Belly banh mi. Pork Belly Tacos. Pork belly this. Pork belly that. Well, Shawn started from scratch and presents that ubiquitous cut of everything-you-wanted-bacon-to-be in his inimitable Confucius style: Simply presented with sliced peppers, green onions and Chinese spices. Take a look at it in the gallery. I get the first shot of it even before it went on the main menu, and people are loving it.  It would be easy to make a whole meal out of the appetizers at Confucius. On second thought, I probably do, but that doesn’t stop me from ordering a main course.

I’ve never looked askance at a crispy breaded chicken chunk, and the Tong Ann Chicken is no exception. The sweet/spicy ginger coating on the white-meat chicken is married to the crunchy string beans. Another tasty offering is the Orange Chicken. It’s not fried nuggets like the Tong Ann; it is sliced. Note that the orange chicken might not be on the menu now. Shawn prepares it in authentic Hunan style, and has been doing so for 20 years. But he’s sick and tired of hearing people whine that it’s not like their neighborhood carryout. He doesn’t use the shortcut methods so many people are used to from their corner Hunan joint where the food is ordered out of a catalog, then bubbled on a steam table all day waiting for you and your Visa card. That’s just the way he is.

UPDATE: It’s Christmas Eve 2015 and I just finished one of the most delicious plates I’ve had at Confucius: The Crispy Shrimp & Scallops with Candied Walnuts and Snow Peas. It was all I could do to break out of my Kung Pao rut, and I’m very happy I did. We also had the Spicy Ginger Pork (with chunks of ginger!). This was also very good. Of course everything at Confucius is fresh out of the wok. They are open every Xmas Eve, Day, New Year’s Eve and Day. They were packed tonight (Xmas Eve) and people were still waiting for tables when we left. Danielle told me they are completely full tomorrow (Xmas Day). Just sayin’….

Just last week my next door neighbor ordered the Crispy Duck. She loved it. Served with little “tortilla”-like rounds, crunchy spring onions and little squares of crispy, crunchy skin, she left the plate shiny and clean. A variation on that dish is the Five-Spice Duck. It’s Chinese on steroids, and even more delicious when ordered “extra spicy.” Note that the duck dishes do tend to vary a bit, but they’re all good.

Other members of various dining parties have ordered (and reordered) the Black Pepper Beef, the Seafood Ginger Sauce, the Ginger Chicken and the Pan-Seared Salmon with a cilantro/lime/garlic seasoning over broccoli. No complaints anywhere. See the photo gallery for shots of these little gems.

Another feature of the new mid-summer 2016 menu is a larger assortment of small plates. You can now get that amazing fried rice (including a brand new version with hot peppers – see it in the gallery!) as a side dish. Shawn kicks his famous fried rice up several more notches by adding yellow curry to a vegetable version. Last but not least, you can also now snag a small plate of Eggplant with Black Bbean Sauce. Dark and tantalizingly savory.

Lover of “hot” that I am, I order the Hot Pepper Chicken. As promised, it’s dished up with an assortment of peppers, both fresh and dried. Top it off with scallions, and it’s not soon to be forgotten (in a lot of ways…). And I’m sure the Hot Pepper Pork is just as good. If you’ve gotten this far, then I’m not ashamed to admit that my other favorite is the ubiquitous Kung Pao Chicken. But any similarity to your neighborhood “Hunan” carry-out joint ends there. It has NOT been languishing on a hot steam table all afternoon, vegetables and peanuts slowly disintegrating, desperately waiting for you and your Visa card. At Confucius, Shawn and his crew cook it to order, adding the vegetables and peanuts at the last minute. They’re colorful, crackly, and the taste and texture stand up perfectly to the sweet and spicy sauce. If you don’t want it spicy hot, be sure to tell them. They will happily comply.

I can’t finish without urging you to order the bright green and crispy Sauteed String Beans “for the table.” They’re covered in a savory hot sauce and there’s enough for a big garlicky spoonful for at least two or three people. Another great sharing dish is the Fried Rice. I like to get it with chicken and shrimp. Though the white rice is nice, the fried has been tried — and loved. See the new versions of this favorite in the paragraphs above.

One of the specialty dishes at Confucius is the Whole Crispy Sea Bass (photo in the gallery is courtesy Coastal Style Magazine}. It’s worth tip-toeing around the bones to enjoy the moist, meaty fish and the tangy, ever-so-slightly sweet sauce. If you love whole fish, don’t miss this one. Yet another new entree that you don’t want to miss is the Lemongrass Shrimp. Those fat meaty shrimp for which Confucius is known are served simply in a light brown sauce decorated with lemongrass. The new Shredded Pork with Vegetables and Beef Chow Hu Fun (fun are flat noodles made from rice) are also waiting for you to try them.

Confucius is in a tiny building on the west end of Wilmington Avenue, on the north side (57 Wilmington), at the intersection with Second Street directly across from Salt Air. Neighbors include 208 Social, Juice Box, Papa Grande’s Rehoboth and Henlopen City Oyster House.

They DO take reservations. Give ’em a call at 302-227-3848. Click here for a look at the dinner menu. (L. (weekends only), D.) Price Range: Moderate +.

The “food” rating has been increased to celebrate the consistent quality we have enjoyed at Confucius over the years.

The Rehoboth Foodie thanks Coastal Style Magazine, Stephen Cherry and Grant Gursky for allowing the use of the Crispy Sea Bass and the Salmon photos.

Off-season Specials & Hours

Specials & Moods change quickly. Always call a restaurant first.

pp = per person.
BOGO = buy one, get one.
Bloody = bloody mary.
domestics = American-made beers (e.g., Bud).
imports = foreign beers (e.g., Heineken).
Rails = non call-brand alcohol.
Prix Fixe = one set price.
Mains = entrees.
Margs = margaritas.
Chix = chicken.
AYCE = all you can eat.
Lite = Miller Lite
drafts = draught beer.
Early Birds = arrive before a certain time.
Apps = Appetizers.
bottles = beer in a bottle.
à la carte = order off the menu (no prix fixe).
crafts = micro/artisanal brews (e.g., Old Leghumper Lager)

57 Wilmington Ave.
(302) 227-3848

Sunday
Sunday Brunch 11 'til 2:30 (not on Xmas or NY Day)
(Peking Duck extra)
Open all year
Call for hours
Monday
Open all year
Call for hours
Monday night fish specials!
Tuesday
Closed 'til Spring 2017
Wednesday
Closed 'til Spring 2017
Thursday
Open all year
Call for hours
Friday
Open all year
Call for hours
Saturday
Open all year
Call for hours
The Rehoboth Foodie

About the Author

"My goal is to promote Rehoboth Beach dining while remaining honest and impartial. I don’t gush unless a place deserves it, and I don’t pull punches, either. With so many good places to eat around here, it just doesn’t make sense to waste the calories — or the money — on anything less." View all articles written by The Rehoboth Foodie

Add Your Comment
  1. Bob says:

    We really enjoyed Confucius last night. String beans, salt and pepper calamari and coconut shrimp were all delicious. Service was exceptional as well. Looking forward to exploring more of the menu and getting the string beans again!

  2. Jeff DiBella says:

    Confuses isn’t your typical Asian / Chineese restruants. There were a number of items on the menu that Were new to me, and all sounded good, so it was very difficult for my wife and I to decide what to order. However, our server explained a number of dishes based on our particular food preferences and helped us to narrow the choices down to two or thre dishes each. My wife had theSeafood with Ginger Sauce and I had the steamed Sea Bass with Ginger Sauce and Scallions. Both dishes were excellent. The vegetables were a bright green and crispy. The presentation was attractive. The noise level was low so we were able to enjoy each other’s conversation without competing noise. The management and server were friendly. Overall this was a great experience. We will definetly be back to try some other dish.

  3. Sid Lionberger says:

    We have vacationed in Rehoboth Beach for many years. We ordered a take out tonight at Confusius-their restaurant is only 4 minutes from our home in Rehoboth Beach. We share this home with two siblings, so we are here every third month of the year. We are retires so we come up to Rehoboth Beach about four months a year. I had the General Tao’s Chicken Dinner and my wife had the Walnut Scallops and Shrimp Dinner. Both dinners were wonderful, the chicken was hugh and tender, and the sauces on both dinners wer outstanding. We never can eat all of our dinners, so we actual get a dinner and lunch out of each order. The owner always speaks to you and the other employees are verf friendly. A great restaurant with a very reasonably priced menu.

  4. Luckymom says:

    Truly one of the finest restaurants in Rehoboth and we have wonderful restaurants. The coconut shrimp, green beans, springrolls and dumplings are the best anywhere. And I mean anywhere….I have been to many excellent Chinese restarants in many states and big cities.

  5. Ted says:

    This is more in response to your “Coastal Style” article than your blog post but they didn’t seem particularly interested in “make[ing] off-menu items” for us. I specifically asked what sort of special things they might make and Danielle explained in detail (in Chinese) the specific items that were authentic. While the food was certainly above average, I’m not dying to come back.

    That said, she was extremely friendly and helpful.

  6. John says:

    Confucius is a fabulous restaurant. It is not your typical chinese cuisine- Won ton soup for 6.95? YES and you will crave it until the next time you return. It is that good nd unique. The ingredients are high quality and the year round personal involvemnt of the owners make it a stand out in Rehoboth. You will not find this type of cooking in your home town whether it is DC, Phila, or New York! Danielle , the owner’s wife , is a gracious hostess and she and her chef husband Shawn will gladly create or modify a dish to your tastes, or guide you to other choices you might not have tried on your own. My favorite spicy dishes are the 5 spice duck and the cumin beef. Lobster Cantonese is a standout too. The wine list seems carefully chosen.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Dear Foodie,
    After several emails with you about your wonderful web site, we have come to trust your judgement. We are sure that the food at Confusius is terrific, but we can’t confirm as we never got to taste it on our most recent visit. We arrived on Sunday about about 2:15 for their 11:00-2:30 brunch. We were seated and waited until the hostess/waitress tended to other tables, including taking someone’s brunch order. At about 2:25, she came over to tell us that the kitchen was already cleaning up and that they could not serve us. Go figure!!

  8. LVTfan says:

    I’m surprised no one is talking about Sunday brunch! What a delightful meal. We’ve tried nearly everything on the 18-item menu, and never been unhappy with any of the choices. And the owners and staff are so accommodating and friendly.

  9. Alisa and Bob says:

    I love Nick C comment! I work with a doctor from China and I asked him where can I get good Chinese food? He told me that there is no good Chinese food in the DC area! Period! It was all awful! Made me laugh. Glad we were recommended to try Confucius – it is great!

  10. Alisa and Bob says:

    We loved loved loved this restaurant. Went here on a recommendation of a local (and friend). They were right on the money. Superb! Service was prompt and friendly. Greeted by the owner. Everything was clean. AND, the most important thing – the food was to die for delicious!

  11. Marcella says:

    I can’t wait to try this place, my husband and I have lived here since 2004 and we have given up on trying to find good Chinese food (I bought a wok instead). I never ate in Chinatown, but I can relate to the comment – Brooklyn Chinese food was better than Manhattan Chinese food.

  12. The Rehoboth Foodie The Rehoboth Foodie says:

    Nick…
    I very rarely respond to comments from visitors, but none have made me laugh like yours did. And your daughter is absolutely right!
    When I worked in NYC, we always crossed the bridge for good Chinese, rather than go to Chinatown.

  13. NickC says:

    I took my daughter to Confucius last summer. She has traveled in China, and she was working two blocks from Chinatown in New York. We had the smoked tofu with peppers, the dumplings, the spicy duck, a whole fish, and I can’t remember what else. “You can’t get food like this in Chinatown,” she said. “For food this good, you have to go to Queens.”

    For anyone who knows the Chinese food scene in New York, that says it all.

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