Sam's Congee Delight
Sam’s Congee Delight has been known for making some of the best congee in Toronto for decades.
Originally starting out serving congee in Hong Kong in 1966, the family that runs Sam’s immigrated to Canada and opened the business in the Pacific Mall area in 1993.
In 2018, they moved to this modern new space with a capacity of 90, with a casual design inspired by feng shui and the owner’s favourite shade of teal. A scratch kitchen at the back fully visible through transparent walls pumps out congee, rice paper rolls and dough sticks.
Congee-making starts at 5:30 in the morning, as it takes a little over two hours to boil the rice down to the proper texture, and the restaurant opens bright and early at 8:30 a.m.
Various different ingredients go in the bottom of the bowl, mostly slices of different kinds of protein like chicken, beef or fish, as well as minced and shredded meats and ubiquitous preserved egg.
The “Assorted” congee with preserved egg ($7.25) is apparently a best seller, “assorted” implying a combination of minced beef, squid and pork rind. The thick, warm, soft and bland congee provides a comforting backdrop for the medley of textures and flavours from the proteins, the egg providing indulgent richness and peanuts adding extra saltiness.
Pork liver with pudding ($7.25) is another popular variety, and if the peanuts aren’t enough extra seasoning you can always add a drizzle of soy sauce too.
It’s especially satisfying to dip a hunk of a satisfying greasy, crispy fried dough stick ($1.80 apiece) into the mushy congee.
White fungus with corn ($5.50) is one of a few vegetarian options that also include congee that’s plain, with pumpkin, or just egg. The corn has the effect of making the congee a little more sweet rather than savoury like the meat.
This is also an incredible destination for rice rolls ($3.25), stuffed with basic options like dough sticks or shrimp ($5).
Sesame seed balls ($1.80) balloon to the size of fists, sticky, nutty, sweet and airy. They also do radish cakes ($3.50), sweet crullers with and without bean paste ($1.80), and desserts typical of your usual congee joint.
Sam’s Congee Delight doesn’t take reservations, but there is a sizeable and comfy waiting area decorated with a blown-up photo of Hong Kong.