We were craving some comfort food after almost a week in Seattle, and my friends and I agreed that some congee was in order. If you don’t know what congee is, it is rice porridge, either plain, or with various ingredients thrown in for added flavor. My son generally refuses to eat congee unless he’s sick, his famous last words every time I try to feed it to him is “mom, I’m not sick.”
In Seattle’s Chinatown, there’s a huge Japanese grocery store called Uwajimaya. Congeez is a stall located within Uwajimaya’s food court, where you can customize your own bowl of congee, just the way you like it. If you’re not into congee, there are other things to choose from, such as noodles, or rice dishes. (Delivery service is available in the Seattle area via Postmates and GrubHub).
The congee runs between $9 and $12, and since there were seven of us, we managed to try a lot of what the menu had to offer.
The classic Cantonese congee traditionally consists of salted pork and black egg (皮蛋), and here, a healthier version is available using Mountaire Farms young chicken. Chicken Congee with Century Egg ($9.95) comes topped with black egg wedges, cilantro, ginger, and scallions. The bone broth used to cook the congee adds depth and flavor to the base of all the congee offerings.
Although there are vegetarian toppings for the congee, the base still consists of bone broth, so it’s not ideal if you’re a hard-core vegetarian. Tofu Congee ($8.95) has chunks of soft tofu, shards of ginger, shiitake mushrooms, mixed vegetables and scallions.
I prefer the Veggies Black Rice Congee ($11) which has a stronger flavor than the white rice version. Add a poached egg for $1 more. The shiitake mushrooms, cilantro, ginger, scallions, broccoli, taro, potato, corn, and carrot all combine to create a decent overall flavor, but it is the crispy garlic that kicked it up a notch.
I wanted to try their version of chicken rice. Khao Mun Gai ($10.95) is served with your choice of dark or white meat chicken, with a bowl of hot soup on the side. A spicy or sweet sauce accompanies — I opted for the spicy, and it was fabulous. Unfortunately, I should have chosen all dark meat — I asked for half half — as the white meat was rather dry. However, I was super pleased that I also ordered half half for my rice. The nuttiness of the black rice is fantastic, however, you taste less of the seasonings than the white rice for that same exact reason.
My Hawaiian friends tried BBQ Pork Noodle Soup ($9.95) as it resembled saimin — yes, that’s what a night of college-like drinking will do to you. Thin egg noodles in a light bone broth, topped with slices of BBQ pork, blanched bok choy, and finished with a pinch of fresh cilantro and scallions make for one comforting, hangover cure.
There is a broth-less version of the noodles too. BBQ Pork Dry Noodles ($9.95) possess the same condiments, but instead of broth, there was a hoisin-like sauce that accompanied.
Of course, hard-core congee lovers can’t do without Chinese Donut ($2), and the one here was awesome. The crispiness of the donut chunks were perfect for dipping into your congee, adding textural contrast to the gooey porridge.
I didn’t try Grilled Pork Belly Sticky Rice Sandwich ($5) but my friends really liked it. I’m more familiar with the Shanghainese version which is stuffed with pork sung and Chinese donut. A side of pickles help cut the fattiness of the pork belly.
Congeez is a great place for all the Asian comfort foods I crave, and its location is very convenient. I love that there are options for everyone in our party regardless of dietary restrictions, although like I’ve mentioned earlier, a strict vegetarian wouldn’t be able to have the bone broth congee.
They also validate parking, so don’t forget to bring your parking ticket with you.
503 S Weller Street
Seattle, WA 98104