Desserts & Bakeries
Southern & Soul
Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens
Lower East Side
Upper East Side
Upper West Side
NEIGHBORHOOD: Chinatown, Lower East Side
Photo sourced from NYmag
I went to Congee by accident. I had aimed to go to its elaborately decorated and flashing-neon-lights-wearing brethren, Congee House, or Congee Village, but instead found myself at 98 bowery, peering into a room of Chinatown locals. My father has always told me that the best restaurant is where the locals go, so I went in anyhow. CONT'D
Technically, I'm one of them — I don't live very far away, but I was still delegated to the tourist section, i.e. next to a couple who were grumpily frowning at one another, surrounded by shopping bags. A plastic-covered caricature of the two of them was propped up against a chair, like a third dinner guest. Despite my sour tablemates, the rest of the restaurant was filled with a chatty crowd. Round tables that seated 12 were surrounded by smiling faces and an overwhelming amount of food, shared via a lazy susan.
The restaurant is named for congee, a rice porridge popular in many Asian countries, prepared by boiling rice for a long period of time. While Congeee offers a number of different flavors — from roast duck & meatball to frog — I opted for the vegetable version. It resembled a tastless mixture of cream of wheat and oatmeal, with bits of vegetables bobbing around and what may or may not have been quail eggs. This may not be the best "sell" in the world, but after doctoring it up with soy sauce, and hot sauce (whatever sauce I could get my hands on) it was good enough to go in for seconds. One incredibly-large bowl (enough for six people, by my estimation) was four dollars. The rest of my meal — sauteed veggies and cashew chicken — was enough to serve at least three, and the check was for less than $20.00.
The rest of the food is the same as most chinatown places; just greasy enough to be satisfying, a few predictable choices on the menu, and plenty of out-there options I am determined to try some day, as soon as someone tells me where to start. A weak "worth it," if any, but I would go back to to try some more.
Posted in FOOD on June 2, 2010 3:51pm by Rachel Hochhauser | 5473 comments
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We are young (early 20's) and hungry (for knowledge! music! art! food!) friends living on (or in areas which border) Manhattan. We moved to the city seeking higher education, and an alternative to frat parties and gin buckets. We prefer a bottle of Chianti to a keg, lunches at City Bakery to a dining hall, Joe's to Starbucks, Frankie's Amatriciana to Batali's. Our uniting factor is our love for food. For detailed, personal information, keep reading.
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