Well, it’s taken five years, but I’ve finally had a chance to check out the fish rice porridge (jook) at Chu Kong Seafood in Millbrae. It’s fantastic, so I hope you don’t delay as long as I had. Here are the original recs.
A live tilapia is netted from the tank in the back and the thin filets are poached in the ecru colored jook and garnished with thin shreds of fresh ginger and scallions. My mom and I were both surprised to learn that tilapia is used, as the taste was so delicate and not earthy at all. The porridge itself is creamy in texture, nicely seasoned, and just the right thickness for me. It’s a huge serving and can certainly feed more than two people. But that’s a good thing, to be combined with the second half of the preparation comes out a little later. The head, bones, and tail portion are laid out on top of squares of silky soft tofu and steamed with a light black bean sauce and cooked oil (sook yau). You’ll want to reserve some of the jook to have with the tasty bits and stir some of those juices in for a new taste experience. I was glad that we were the only customers in the place at lunch time and I could suck on those bones with abandon. There’s not much on them, but the seasonings soaked into the two proteins are so delicious. The fish jook isn’t on the printed menu so you have to ask for it, and it costs $20.
My mom ordered the barbecued pork soup noodles, $6.25, and this was good too. The thin egg noodles were just a tad too soft, but very tasty. The caramel colored stock was a deeper and richer style that spoke of roasted meats and bones. The small choi sum had been cut into quarters and given a turn in the wok, an extra touch that releases more flavor and opens them up to soak in the soup. The barbecued pork was natural in color, not dyed red, so it might be housemade.
We were the only customers sitting in the restaurant, and there was only one take-out order during our time at Chu Kong. The place is spotless, not new, but freshly scrubbed and spic-n-span.
My mother sat facing the window, and at one point she said, “This is like being in Chinatown, everyone walking by is Chinese”. I imagine that those were customers headed to neighboring Asian Pearl. I felt a little smug that we’d had a superlative lunch for a lower tariff here. Mom was very happy with the value here, and nearly a quart of the fish jook went home with me for another meal.
1661 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030