Congee Village

By grace.g.yang ยท September 4, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Chinatown,Dinner,LES,My Life,Nightlife

Some readers may remember my first visit to Congee Village. I went for “brunch” and sampled various rice porridge’s (congee’s) with my brother, Joe, and Chris. This time, I returned to Congee Village (their location on Bowery) with my dad, brother, and some of my dad’s friends from Taiwan and New Jersey. When I go to Chinese restaurants with my mom, I usually sit back and relax because she is usually ordering something off the menu or something crazy that I’ve never even heard of (same with my dad and all of my other relatives). Luckily, one of my dad’s friends ordered for us and I just had to sit there and pretend to study the large menu. We started off with a very light bone soup:


The bone soup was too light (not enough flavor) but the tofu was tender and very delicate. The server was really bad at portioning out the soup; everyone’s bowl just had soup and one piece of tofu and all of the meat was left in the large bowl! What was he thinking?

After our soup, we ordered some jellyfish:


The jellyfish was not properly seasoned, the spices were more sweet than savory, and I think it wasn’t all jellyfish because the textures were vastly different. I am a huge fan of jellyfish, but the stuff at Congee Village just didn’t cut it.

Next, we ordered some crabs:


The crabs were seasoned well, but really difficult to eat. I ended up giving my portion to my dad because I didn’t feel like sucking up tiny bits of meat (if Emilie Hirsch asked me, I would tell him that the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze).

The spareribs came next:


They were too sweet for me, but my brother was a fan. I think my mom makes better spareribs (Congee Village should use more soy sauce and less brown sugar).

You may think I had a really bad meal at Congee Village, but no, the food kept coming and started to get better as we went on in the night. The first good dish I had was the kong xin cai:


My dad thought the vegetables tasted a little old, but I enjoyed the dish. It is pretty difficult to mess up this dish.

The next good dish was the fried fish with two types of chives:


The first time I tried yellow chives was in Chicago (my marathon shopping trips with my mom always ended at Ken Kee with fish and yellow chives). At Ken Kee, the owner explained that yellow chives were covered from direct sunlight, so they’re the same as the green chives, just without sun (and without sun, they don’t produce chlorophyll). The chive combination was slightly sweet and very garlicky and the fried fish added a nice crunch to the chives. I probably ate the most of this dish because it was situated right in front of me and I didn’t want to be rude and move the lazy Susan.

Chicken came out next:


The chicken didn’t have any real flavor to it; was it supposed to taste like soy sauce? Tea? Just chicken? I didn’t like this dish and didn’t eat much of it.

My second to last dish was the tofu:


The tofu was tender, flavorful, and quite delicious. Definitely worth ordering again. I liked the different textures from the tofu; very tender on the inside, but there was a slight layer of soggy-crunchiness. It’s like when you soak your cereal for a couple minutes to get it to the right consistency (am I the only one that does that?)

My favorite dish of the night:


Steamed fish with black bean sauce. The fish tasted like silky tofu with a slight saltiness from the black bean sauce. It was seriously so good that I contemplated ordering a second one.

Everyone had a lot of fun at dinner and we discussed my dad’s friend’s job (he is a professor at Rutgers and researches some really interesting stuff – Chinatown gangs and prostitution rings). My dad also met up with one of his students (she is a part-time flight attendant and had a two day layover in New York). Finally, my dad’s colleague in Taiwan has a daughter studying finance in New Jersey and she came along as well. In fact, I used to hang out with her when we were in Taiwan (although I don’t remember this little tidbit). Apparently I used to go shopping for barrettes with her:


And the entire table after dinner:


Congee Village was just started to get super busy when we were leaving (around 10PM). Seems like a really fun place to go after a night of drinking on the LES!

Congee Village on Urbanspoon

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