You wouldn't think a bowl of porridge, especially one priced at $2.50 would be worth mentioning, let alone writing the following wordy essay about. But I was craving something to soothe my sore throat and it hit me; Arroz Caldo. Yes, that's it. I thought! A bowl of steaming, hot congee, made with chicken stock, generous chunks of tender chicken meat, chopped scallions and crumbled fried garlic. Man, would that hit the spot! And it did.
The styrofoam bowl, filled to the brim with this most comforting of comfort foods, looks ordinary enough. The color of the chickeney, light congee (rice porridge) was barely yellow, more of a dull white. If it weren't for the sprinkling of green onions, it would be downright monochromatic. Then you dig in with your plastic spoon, and you find tender slightly pink chunks of boneless chicken thigh. You slurp a few spoonfuls. The unmistakable depth of chicken stock fills your mouth, while the velvety texture of the congee soothes. The fried garlic pieces, golden and crisp, is used sparingly, just enough to get a few bursts from these flavor crystals now and then. The scallions provide a bit of spiciness and herbiness, like counterpoints to a melody.
A simple dish for a measly price ($2.50), but one that, in my opinion, is worth every word I've written and every cent I spent.
Manila Sunset Restaurant
17870 Newhope St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708