During my past trip to Hong Kong, in addition to my obsessive adventure with Won-Ton Noodles, I also manage to spend some time doing a bit of 'rice congee tasting'.
Comforting, delicious and supposed to be great for the digestive system, great Congees, like great Won-Ton Noodles are pretty hard to find in North America. Nowadays, due to fuel and labor wage increases, many establishments are taking short cuts, bypassing the slow and long simmering approach and using binding agents like starches to reach the desired consistency and texture.
It was my goal to seek out Congee shop that still adopt the traditional approach of using the long hour slow simmering cooking method, Yuba skin and dried conpoy as base ingredients and finishing touch of pouring piping hot Congees into fresh raw ingredients.
All in all, I managed to try out over 6 outfits, ordering the same, if possible, my favorite option, - "Thousand Year Eggs and Salt Preserved Pork with added 'Yellow Sand' Pig's Liver". These places include real hole-in-the-wall as well as more refined establishments:
- Tasty, Kowloon Bay
- Praise House, Sha-Tin City One
- Bamboo House, CWB
- Delicious Congee, Jordan ( with lettuce topping )
- Superior Rice Roll Pro Shop, Prince Edward ( slight deviation )
- Jor Lun Yau Lay, Hung Hum
I believe all six uses the traditional slow cooked method and a minimal of binding agents. This I can tell by observing the congee still retaining the same smooth and 'thick' texture all the way to the end, even with intermittent stirring.
Taste-wise, Praise House, Tasty, Bamboo House and Jor Lun Yau Lay all deserved high praise. Smooth and perfectly textured congee base filled with lovely umami flavor from the Conpoy, they all used real shredded salted pork. However, the most impressive part were the perfect execution of the Pig's Liver. Cooked just right, all four versions were nicely seasoned and gave a delightful 'pop' when bitten into. Then came the smooth, and unctuous textural feel!! So good!! These combination, I doubt any outfit in North America can manage to replicate!
A nice surprise and real find came from a unique version which I happened to come across at the Michelin Bib Gourmand 'Superior Rice Roll'. "Shredded Preserved Duck Gizzard with salted pork bone and sun dried Chinese Mustard green", This congee was unique and refreshing tasting. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about their trade mark Rice Roll whose wrapping tasted 'grainy'!! A No-No!!
Lastly, Delicious Congee! This Bib Gourmand was an expensive and total failure!! Covering old prices on their menu with stickers, they hiked up ALL their products after being featured on Michelin?! Lousy product, unfair pricing coupled with unpleasant surroundings, I wonder how long they could survive?!
BTW, their limped, mushy and bland 'Stirred fry noodles with bean sprouts and top soya sauce" must be one of the worst thing I have eaten on this trip!! We left the whole plate literally untouched!!