Sunday, July 25, 2010

Post 26.10: Vancouver - Day 3 (Breakfast)

Twas my third day in Vancouver, and throughout the weekend Amanda had been talking about heading to this popular congee house for some Cantonese homestyle porridge.  Everytime she mentioned it I secretly kept thinking to myself that congee is food that you eat only when you have a cold, flu, or hangover... it's the last item you order at dim sum (if you even remember to order it) to fill you up.  Some people haaaaate congee with a passion.  It's rice + water + gag-inducing items like thousand-year-old egg. 

Okay, so that's what I used to think about congee...

After a quick meal with Amanda and her friend Ian, I have officially changed my policy on congee.  The congee at Congee Noodle King in Vancouver has the best congee/porridge/rice soup I have ever had in my life... way, way, way better than anything I've ever had in America.  And I wasn't even in Hong Kong.  (Those Yelpers are nuts for giving it just three stars.)

The congee I've had in dim sum restaurants are usually served runny.  Water or broth overrun the bowl, and it almost drowns the rice.  Here, though, the congee was thick.  The pureed rice wasn't overtaken by broth or water.  The grains of rice were uniform throughout the porridge, and the porridge, at first glance, even looked... beautiful.  The porcelain bowl arrived with the porcelain-hued porridge, and it almost felt... refined.

The first item on the menu, strangely, is ostrich congee.  There were three simple reasons to order ostrich congee at Congee Noodle King:

(1) The first item on the menu is usually (repeat... usually) the house specialty;
(2) When have you ever come across ostrich meat in your rice porridge?
(3) My manager at work mentioned ostriches last week; it was a sign...

So we ordered it. 

And how does a native African bird taste in traditional Chinese breakfast porridge?


The ostrich meat looks like beef at first glance.  If you didn't know someone ordered the ostrich congee, you'd probably think the meat floating atop your bowl was beef.  But once you take a bite, you'd change your tune just a bit... you'd probably think it was lamb.  The gamey taste of the ostrich is similar to that from lamb.  And though the scent lingers in your mouth a little bit, it's not anything too insanely pungent.  The roasted peanuts and strings of green onion do a satisfactory job of holding the gamey taste back.

It's something you have to experience at least once in your life.  Not your favorite? At least try it once.   And move onto the house special seafood congee with prawns, scallops, squid, and pieces of fish.  THIS is what I'm talkin' about.  It's got a beautiful, delicate porcelain look... and the same beautiful, delicate porcelain taste.

I really enjoyed all the combination of the ocean's lighter fare.  No rubbery clams, no mushy oysters, no thousand. year. old. egg. to ruin the delicate flavors.

We ordered a wonton soup and the Chinese doughnut wrapped in steamed rice roll too.  I have no idea where my picture of the wonton soup went though... we might've eaten it a bit too fast for my Canon to catch it.

For something that is considered soupy, congee fills you up pretty fast.  But that congee dissipates as quickly as it enters your stomach... it was lunch time before I knew it.

Here is a post on Congee Noodle King from the noshwell duo.

Next post: Some pho and some fun

ML - 20100802/20100704

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