Au Wing Kee
After many, many days of indulging in chile-laden goodness, it was time for some comfort food. According to Wikipedia, comfort food is “…typically inexpensive, uncomplicated, and easy to prepare. Many people eat comfort food because it is generally easily digestible, is tasty and flavorful…” Exactly what I’m looking for! It just so happens, right up the hill, there’s Au Wing Kee, an old-school congee joint that fits the bill perfectly.
Congee is basically, rice porridge. Rice is cooked in salted water until it reaches a creamy consistency. Chicken, pork or beef broth can be used instead of water as well as a myriad of seafood stocks. The variety of toppings include peanuts, lettuce, fish paste, pork liver, chinese mushroom, bamboo shoots, pickled tofu and my personal nemesis, the Century Duck Egg. The combinations are nearly endless. On this day, however, I went with the simplest version.
Dried Scallop Congee. Simplicity in a bowl. Hot, savoury and delicious. At $2.25, it’s a hell of a bargain, too. Due to my addiction, a good dollop of chile-oil is required.
I made a point of asking a couple of Chinese colleagues about customary congee seasonings. When I mentioned chile-oil, I was given a look that made me reach and check for a third eye. Apparently this is a major faux-pas. I thought, jeez, it tastes so damn good. Upon reflection, I realized that the whole idea was to be comforted and get well. It makes really good sense. On the other hand, screw it. I’m going for the heat!
The Beef Noodle Soup was loaded with tender chunks of fatty brisket in a well-seasoned broth. The vermicelli noodles were a little too chewy, but, hey, for $4.95, I wasn’t complaining. The requisite spoonful of chile-garlic sauce livened it up considerably!
Au Wing Kee is one of those places that fills up really quickly around the lunch hour. This isn’t about the service. When you walk through the door and the server points to the tables and says “Go sit!”, just go sit. Don’t be offended. Go sit down and chill out knowing there’s some darn good food to be had.