The Best Congee in Toronto
The best congee in Toronto is like getting a warm hug on a cold day. Long-established as the epitome of home-style Chinese cooking, congee is also a particularly popular "mom's remedy" to those who are feeling under the weather. In fact, I know many mothers that would express shock at the notion of eating anything OTHER than congee when I'm unwell.
Congee is also well-known as a comfort food, a term that is clearly viewed very differently than in traditional North American cooking that puts dishes such as grilled cheese or poutine in that same category.
It may not be the most flavourful (or aesthetically appealing) dish out there, but if you're looking for a traditional, humble, yet satisfying Chinese dish, you could do worse than these bowls of what is essentially seasoned watery rice.
Here is the list of the best congee in Toronto.
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With three locations around the city (the main one being the rather large one at the Shops at Steeles and 404 Mall), Congee Queen is quickly becoming a staple among many who seek good congee, along with other dishes, in a clean and sleek restaurant. The salmon congee is one of my favourites, with the characteristic taste of the fish blending nicely with the relative smoothness of the congee. Have it with a side of their fried turnip cake and you're all set. Come early before mealtimes, unless lining up is your favourite pastime activity.
King`s Noodle underwent renovations a few years ago, and while I personally have problems navigating around the chaotic table arrangements, I certainly don't have any in downing the deliciously satisfying Fisherman`s Catch Congee (it's amazing how much seafood they manage to cram into that bowl). It fgoes great with some you tiao (fried dough fritters) on the side.
The secret chef behind many so-called homemade potluck dinners held in Asian households, Congee Wong is such a staple that it's a little known fact that many Chinese families in Scarborough and North York keep its takeout menu right beside the emergency contact numbers. Open late and always jammed with patrons, the star of the show is the amusingly named Super Bowl Congee, which will undoubtedly send NFL execs scrambling for their lawyers, where everything from fish to scallops is included in a large dish. Their popular fried turnip cakes are no slouch either.
No, this place isn't owned by the husband of Congee Queen's owner. In fact, its fame is nowhere near that of its spousal namesake, but it's a nice place to get a change from the more popular names on this list and still have good quality congee. The oyster congee is one of the house specialties, and its flavours are a little stronger than one would expect, but in my opinion that's why it sets itself apart from the others. Their other foods, however, are definitely more of the hit and miss variety.
Goldstone Noodle is a longtime favourite for many early-morning revelers in downtown Chinatown, and while the service here is not stellar, many of its regulars will swear by its duck congee. I've personally found the congee here to be a bit plainer compared to many of the others on its list, so it's probably more suited to congee purists. Make sure you also get a side of their delicious bbq pork with your meal for a nice contrast in flavours.
Located, perhaps a little oddly, in the very un-Chinese area of Don Mills and Eglinton, this restaurant offers up a really good deal. Their House Special Congee is large and chock-full of delicious seafood such as shrimp and salmon for under $6, and that's not all. Their other congee offerings are also similarly wallet-friendly, and the service is usually quite efficient and polite. After you're done, you can even go check out stars of a different variety at the nearby Ontario Science Centre. It's a win-win situation!
If you think that it's odd how House of Gourmet shows up in multiple posts here on this site, it's not. This place, while not fancy, proves that you could be a jack of all-trades but still be excellent in all the things you do. Case in point is their abalone congee. Tenderly chewy (abalone fans would know what I mean) and comfortingly smooth, it truly combines the best of both worlds. If you're looking for something decidedly less exotic, you can't go wrong with their lobster congee.
If the Congee Queen and Congee King names are anything to go by, I'm half-expecting there to be a Mrs. Congee restaurant opening soon. Until then, this small but modern restaurant will do very nicely as a great place to gulp down some congee, as well as a solid reason to visit the rather forlorn-looking Bridlewood Mall in Scarborough. The congee here is a bit plainer than most of the other locations on this list, but makes up for it with fresh toppings, richly evident in the succulent scallop and shrimp congee. The noise level during mealtimes may approach jet engine proportions, mind you.
This little-known congee place is shoehorned rather awkwardly inside the rather glum-looking Skymark Plaza on Don Mills and Finch. Once inside though, the rather spacious restaurant will surprise you with the quality of many of their offerings. The sliced fish congee here is both delicious and impressive despite its simplicity in presentation, and the large offering of snacks to enjoy on the side make for an enjoyable meal. It does get very crowded during mealtimes, though.
The best answer to the question "What time is it?", Congee Time has been satisfying patrons in the Koreatown North area of Yonge and Finch for several years now, and shows no signs of slowing down. The star of the show in this rather small establishment is undoubtedly the superlative-laden Super Supreme Congee Bowl, with oodles of prawn, scallops, surf clam, and fish all hanging out inside your large bowl of delicious congee. They also cater for large parties.
Who is Sam and how is his congee so delightful? This always-crowded joint is located inside the soon-to-be-demolished Market Village, and is definitely a place to visit before time runs out. The tasty pork liver congee, with a side of you tiao fritters wrapped inside rice rolls, is delicious in a simple and understated way. Not the most pleasant of atmospheres though, so perhaps it's a good thing the food comes blazingly fast.
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