Sherman's Food Adventures: Congee Noodle House

Congee Noodle House

It has been over 3 years since Congee Noodle House has last been open.  Ordered to shut down due to a partial collapse of their parking lot into an adjacent construction site, we lost a great place to grab quick Chinese eats.  Due to insurance issues and of course the pandemic, it stayed closed, seemingly never to serve their wondering wonton noodles, congee and Chinese BBQ again.  Well, I've been back twice since they returned from the dead.  Oh and by-the-way, I'm using a stock picture of the front since there is Skytrain construction along Broadway.

Let's get to the items that are in the restaurant name first.  I ended up with the Wonton & Siu Gau Noodles instead of just the plain wonton noodles because I wanted more variety.  For those who are unfamiliar, the large wontons here are primarily comprised of shrimp with some binding from shrimp mousse and pork fat.  These had a sweet snap from the shrimp.  As for the Siu Gau, they were larger and added wood ear mushrooms that provided some extra crunch.  The noodles were perfectly prepared having a good chewiness while the broth was mild, yet still had plenty of depth.

Alright, the second item in the restaurant name is congee, so we got the Sliced Fish and Beef Congee.  The viscosity of the congee was on point with a silkiness that was thick, yet was still drinkable.  Properly cooked down, the rice was barely there with only some bits.  The sliced fish was tender and flaky while the sliced beef was marinated enough that it was tender while still retaining a meaty texture.  In terms of seasoning, the congee base was flavourful without being too salty.

So in the Chinese description of these types of restaurants also include "rice", so we got the 3 BBQ Meats on Rice.   This included roast pork, soy chicken and BBQ pork.  The rice was chewy and nutty with a good amount of braising liquid for flavour.  Sporting crunchy crackling and fatty belly, the roast pork was good.  Despite being served the wing, the soy chicken was tender, but it could've been more flavourful.  It was our mistake to not specify that we wanted fatty BBQ pork, so we ended up with lean.  Therefore, it was a little dry.

Since we didn't have the BBQ Duck with the combo plate, we got half a duck to test it out.  It was a good decision since the duck was huge and very meaty.  The breast meat was tender and moist while the rest of the duck was brined well, but not salty.  The skin was still mostly crispy while the fat underneath was fairly well rendered.  This was the best BBQ meat of the 4 we tried.

To compliment the congee, we ordered the Deep Fried Silverfish with Chili Salt.  For those freaking out, no these aren't the little crawly things on your washroom floor.  Rather, they are little fish that are battered and fried until they are super crispy.  Then they are wok-tossed in garlic, chilis and salt.  This particular version was solid with fairly large silverfish that were indeed crunchy and completely seasoned by the ingredients.

For no other reason that we love Sweet & Sour Pork, we got that too.  Despite being a lighter shade of red-orange (not as much food colouring), this was quite good.  The batter was slightly on the thicker side, but was not a huge detriment.  This was because the chunks of pork shoulder were large and also juicy.  There was enough sauce to coat each piece without excess.  I found it sweeter than sour, but still tasty.

Trying to go for the classics, we ordered the Curry Brisket on Rice.  Another solid dish in my books where the large chunks of brisket were tender and only somewhat fatty.  The curry itself was thick and creamy with enough coconut milk for aroma and viscosity.  The peppers and onions were still firm, yet cooked all the way through.  Just like the previous rice dish, the rice was dry enough that it was perfect to go with sauce.

Lastly, we had the House Special Noodles with a bevy of seafood and veggies.  The noodles were crispy and nicely browned from the deep fry in the wok while there was enough starch-thickened sauce to soften it up.  It was flavourful enough, but I personally like to add red vinegar to the mix.  As for the ingredients, they were cooked just right with nothing being overcooked.  Overall, this was exactly what I expected from Congee Noodle House and it was good to visit an old friend who has returned after 3 years.  Prices have gone up but that is normal across the board.  Food is still solid and of course the wonton noodles and congee rock.

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Decent service
- It is an institution in Vancouver

The Bad:
- Currently parking is an issue


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