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Friday, 13 January 2012

Late Night Dining at Congee Noodle House

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It was 12:30am but Ying and I were really hungry. She just finished cramming for her exam and I just finished watching her cram for her exam. Where should we go? This seems to be a recurring question and time after time, we end up going back to Congee Noodle House – a Chinese restaurant situated on Broadway and Main in Vancouver. It mostly offers Cantonese style dishes. Aside from congee and noodle, which they have a vast selection of, rice dishes and snack dishes are also available. I got there at 12:40am. Parking was plentiful and free! (You have to pay for meter parking during day time.) I felt a little insecure leaving my car outside as there were these dodgy lookingish people walking about.

Upon walking into the establishment, we were quickly greeted and advised that they are closing at 1:00am. Our order would be their kitchen’s last call. We quickly browsed through the menu and decided on 3 things we deemed appropriate for this time of the day.

IMG_6936 copy IMG_6927 copy We cannot go to Congee house and not order congee! For those of you that don’t know what congee is, it is essentially rice cooked in a larger quantity of water resulting in a rice porridge. It is easily digestible and not too heavy – just the right consistency for late night food since I will probably be sleeping in a couple of hours. In fact, congee is the comfort food to a sick Asian person as chicken soup is to a sick Caucasian person.
 I know eating late at night is no good for digestion Sad smile but a man needs his food when he needs his food. We opted for the Hong Kong style Minced Beef Congee ($5.00). Their minced beef is appropriately flavored with green onion garnish on top. The server quickly divided the congee into two bowls for us (at this point, I think they wanted us out of here because their place was closing in 10 minutes, but hey, there were two other tables with tons of food and those guys were taking their time). The congee came in a large bowl (picture on the left) and could be divided into 4 small bowls (picture on the right). So sharing is not a problem. The beef was heavily favored and it went really well with the green onion! There were also fried peanuts in there to give a little crunch. Needless to say, it hit the spot immediately!

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IMG_6929 No congee is complete without a side dish. For me, something crunchy is a must! I like fried smelt (a type of fish) but Ying thinks that stuff is gross. So we compromised and got Salt and Pepper Fried Tofu ($6.25). I had this dish in so many places so I can say I know my fried tofu. If it’s done right, the outside of the tofu is slightly salted and crunchy. The inside should be juicy and soft. When served with vinegar, it’s a taste made in heaven. The worst kind is the over fried ones that are dry on the inside and the outside.

These ones here were alright. Above average I would say. The tofu was nice and soft but not too juicy. Ying commented that the pepper were overcooked; thus, it did not look appealing. The waiter did not bring us vinegar however. At this point, they were bringing us the bill and hurrying us out. So I didn't bother asking them for it.

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IMG_6923 copy This last dish we got, Curry Beef Brisket ($6.75), is Ying’s favourite. I didn't want heavy red meat before I go to bed but Ying insisted. I was pleasantly surprised by this dish I have to admit. I love curry, especially the authentic Indian curry. This Chinese interpretation of curry was very well done here however! The beef pieces were tender and soft – no stubborn tendon that will out last a piece of gum! The curry was not too strong in taste, but was slightly spicy. The green pepper was not soggy like in some restaurants, so we could tell that  this dish was not done way ahead of time. The onion was not overcooked and it complemented the curry very well. I found myself fighting with Ying for the beef pieces. I think I can chow down many bowls of rice with this one dish. The portion size was rather generous for a $6.75 dish - we even had some to take home! 

Overall, the meal was satisfying. It may not be the best tasting or looking food. At this hour, I cannot be picky as my selection is limited. I was also delighted to find that my car had no broken windows Smile Without further ado, I drove Ying home and watched her cram a bit more for her exam.

The Yummies:
  • Free parking on the side street after 10:00pm. Otherwise, meter parking during day time. Congee Noodle House has their own parking but good luck there...
  • Quick turn around time. Hit the spot.
  • Opens until 1:00am (Sun-Thurs) 2:00am (Fri-Sat)
  • Food is flavourful…
The Yuckies:
  • Definitely not gourmet food; more take out kinda food (in fact, their front store says “take out welcome” in Chinese)
  • Not the best presentation
  • Didn’t receive the best service. It didn’t bother me too much as I know they were closing. Perhaps I should go in a bit earlier the next time and see how the servers behave.

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