The first impression you get when entering Stingray Sushi Bar & Asian Latino Grill is the decidedly West Coast feel. The black/orange main room is indirectly lit, with low couches and hi-top tables dominated by the busy and colorful Sushi Bar. Amazingly, however, this well appointed bistro is smack in the middle of Rehoboth Beach, half-way down Lake Ave. (where 59 Lake used to be). The only downstate member of Wilmington's Cherry Tree Hospitality Group, Stingray shares ownership with Mikimoto's, the Washington Street Ale House, and Presto Bistro/Coffee Bar in the Northlands.
After a recent flurry of visits in early 2013, I can tell you that Stingray has, if anything, gotten better than it was when I wrote the first review. The menu has changed since then, and we are mourning the disappearance of a few old items. The Grilled Shanghai Chicken Wings, the Wok-Smacked Pork Pot Stickers, the Smoked Chicken Spring Rolls and the Lobster Quesadilla are, sadly, the stuff of history, but they have been replaced by such goodies as the Duck Quesadilla (as generous as its taloned predecessor; with smoked bacon and that tasty chipotle sour cream), light-as-air Shrimp Shumai Dumplings [pictured, right] nesting in a lake of coconut crab bisque, and (quite possibly the star of the show), the Hoisin Chicken Lettuce Wraps [pictured, left]. Regular visitors to RehobothFoodie.com know how much I love a similar dish at a similar restaurant out on Coastal Highway, and Stingray's version most certainly lives up to that. Cold and crunchy bibb lettuce cradles a savory/sweet mix of veggies, chicken chunks and miso glaze. An additional textural component is provided by water chestnuts. These lettuce wraps are a must-get.
Another of my old favorites, the Shrimp Pad Thai Salad, has been replaced with the Duck + Scallop Pad Thai [pictured, right]. Though I don't think they will ever reproduce that exquisite dressing on the original salad, this new dish is quite good in its own right. Bits of fried egg, peanuts veggies, and bean sprouts play politely in a tangle of rice noodles redolent of lime and cilantro. Pad thai sauce tops it off. The scallops were perfectly cooked -- seared on the outside and ever-so-slightly opaque on the inside. Savory chunks of duck are scattered throughout and add meaty little exclamation marks to the mouth-feel of the dish. I would get this one again in a minute.
A fresh and colorful special that will hopefully find its way onto the regular menu is the Orange-Pomegranate Salad [pictured, left]. It's slathered in a light and citrusy dressing and was quite good. Apple Butternut Squash Bisque [they attacked it before I could get a photo!] is studded with lump crab in a coconut milk reduction. Another homage to Stingray's Latino bent is the Empanadas. Filled with beef and potato, they are joined by a spicy jalapeno teriyaki dip.
One of our favorites at Stingray -- and pretty much everybody agrees -- is The Hairy Mexican [pictured, left]. No, it's not a waiter, bartender or one of the guys in the kitchen; it's a beautifully constructed sushi roll (this one's fully cooked) consisting of fried shrimp and avocado, laced with a spicy sauce and tightly wrapped in crabstick with a mild eel sauce. In spite of the disquieting name, this thing is delicious. Another must-get.
I should warn you about the Pho at Stingray. It is not the traditional beef (or chicken, or shrimp, or vegetarian) noodle soup you might have enjoyed at your favorite Vietnamese joint. Stingray's version is kicked up with ginger, which works very nicely with the required rice noodles and peppery Thai basil. Not sure if the proteins are actually cooked in the heat of the broth as is typical in good Vietnamese eateries, but the soup is tasty and quite filling. If only they had those cool and crunchy Gòi Cuôn (Summer Rolls) to go with it. Oh, well. (Stingray bosses? Are you listening?)
Crispy Calamari [pictured, right] is lightly drizzled with a delightfully tart chipotle miso glaze. The squid is served in rings, fried in such a way as to preserve some of the chewiness of the fish while still providing a nice, bready crunch.
Of course, most people go to Stingray Sushi Bar & Asian Latino Grill for the sushi. On our most recent visit (with a party of 12), pretty much every combination of rolls and sashimi was ordered. Since the various versions often share plates or are part of a combo plate, I have provided several photos of the various selections. Some of the favorites at our table included the California Roll of cucumber, crabstick, avocado and masago (capelin roe, similar to tobiko or flying fish roe), two pieces each of the Eel and Tuna sashimi (thin-sliced fish without the rice wrapping), and the Double Fantasy Roll, made up of lobster tail tempura, snow crab meat and avocado. It's all crowned with white tuna and pepper-seared tuna.
A second round of fishy delights included the Firecracker. It's hot and spicy, with salmon inside and out, with a bit of cool avocado. Presentation is cute, with a shrimp tail sticking out of each end. Friends who like Sushi have gayly devoured the Spicy Tuna and the Crunchy Yellowtail. One of our companions on a previous visit ordered the Supreme Combo -- 10 pieces of sushi and a tuna roll. He's a sushi expert and the plate was clean in no time. Personally, I prefer the cooked variety, and Stingray accommodates with a selection of both cooked and uncooked rolls with a * on the menu.
Further piscene fun was provided by the Spider (a cooked delight with soft-shell crab, avocado, masago, crabstick and cucumber), a Fab Four roll (fried shrimp, asparagus fried tempura-style, with white tuna, seared pepper tuna and cajun tuna), and one each of the Spicy Tuna and the Crunchy Tuna. Again -- the various creations were grouped onto community plates based on who ordered what, so take a look at the posted photos.
On an earlier visit, I had the Pork Tenderloin Mojo. A departure from the asian, the tender (cut it with a fork, thank you) roast pork crowns a brightly spiced black bean and corn salsa bathed in a light ginger-lime sauce. Butternut squash is on the side. Our waiter urged me to have it medium. His advice was well taken.
Denizens of this site know how I rant about pre-made desserts, beautiful but flavorless, past their prime and sadly desiccating in the walk-in. Well, at least two desserts at Stingray do NOT fall into that category. Though the fried cheesecake spring rolls are absent from the new menu, the Red Velvet Bites [pictured, right] are a perfectly acceptable stand-in. Yup, tasty balls of red velvet cake enrobed in chocolate and drizzled with white icing, chocolate ganache and caramel.
Another must-taste is the Avocado Cheesecake [pictured, left]. As far as I'm concerned, the photo says it all. Just order it. You will NOT be sorry.
Stingray is at 59 Lake Avenue. They offer the entire menu (!) for takeout, so call them (302) 227-MISO (6476). (By the way, speaking of phone numbers, Miso is a Japanese seasoning often made by fermenting soy. It's used to make a salty and flavorful soup that contains the softened miso paste. Tell 'em you heard it here first, kids!)
Click here for a look at Stingray's latest menu. (L. (weekends only), D. Bar) Price Range: Expensive.