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Restaurants & Bars 4

Congee Village

Adam Stephanides | Aug 6, 2002 10:48 PM

When I was in New York about a month ago I ate here for the first time. Based on two visits it's become one of my favorite Chinatown places, along with Funky Broome and Sweet 'n' Tart Restaurant.

This place was suggested to me (on the What's My Craving board) as a place serving several kinds of intestines, so on my first visit I ordered "sticky rice intestine." This turned out to be segments of intestine stuffed with sticky rice, with a dipping sauce. They were cooked in such a way that the intestines' fat was (presumably) absorbed by the rice, leaving only a thin, crisp shell. The whole thing was delicious.

I also felt obligated to order the "signature" congee. Of the thirty varieties on the menu, I chose the sampan porridge on the basis of its picture, without knowing what it was. I still don't know what sampan is, but the "porridge" had various sorts of goodies in it, and was very good, in a comfort-food sort of way.

I liked my meal so much that I came back for a second visit, as mentioned above. I couldn't resist ordering a dish designated only as "fish intestine." My waiter was dubious (asking me if I was aware it was fish intestine, which struck me as a somewhat silly question), but took the order. I really didn't know what to expect, but what I got took me completely by surprise. More than anything else, it was like a quiche without the cheese or pastry shell. In the egg "filling" was pork, sliced ginger, and other stuff, as well as what I assume were fish intestines. These weren't fatty like pork intestines, or rubbery like goose intestines; they were just fishy. But their flavor didn't dominate the dish, which once again was delicious.

For my second dish I decided to pass up the congee this time, and ordered rice baked with home style salted chicken, one of the "rice in bamboo pot" preparations. The chicken was indeed salty, but moist. The rice had absorbed juices from the chicken, and was very tasty: another delicious dish.

For such high-quality food, it was very cheap: nothing I ordered cost over ten dollars. It's not suprising that the place is popular: both times I went I had to wait for a table, though not more than fifteen minutes.

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