Restaurant Congee: Chinese dessert soup and congee!
RESTAURANT CONGEE, 1200 Rome Blvd., Brossard
Open until midnight
For island-dwellers, there isn't much in Brossard that is worth a trip across the Champlain Bridge, but Restaurant Congee is an exception. As far as I know, this is the only place in Montreal that specializes exclusively in congee and tong shui (sweet Chinese dessert soup).
I've been here on two occasions and haven't been disappointed. Located in a nondescript strip mall at the end of Rome Blvd., just a few blocks from the river, the restaurant occupies a small but cozy space. On both my visits, all of the customers seemed to be Chinese, but the menu is completely trilingual, with detailed descriptions of each dish in Chinese, English and French.
Congee is a rice porridge popular both as breakfast and a late-night snack. Here it costs between $5-6 per bowl and the selection is vast. On my last visit, I had congee with pork kidneys. Unlike most restaurant congee, it was mellow and not too salty; in fact, it was almost as good as my mother-in-law's homemade congee. I had the same reaction to the other congees I sampled, including the ground beef and egg and the preserved duck eggs and minced pork.
Other snacks on the menu include Chinese doughnuts, which are used for dipping into your congee. On my first visit, which was around 9pm, they were very disappointing, tasting like they had been sitting around all day before being re-fried. On my second visit, early in the afternoon, they were very fresh, crispy and tasty.
Also worth trying is the ho faan, or folded rice noodles served with hoisin and peanut sauce. It's sweet and savoury and almost as good as what I had in Hong Kong.
Now, the dessert: yum. Tong shui is easy to find in Toronto and Vancouver but, until this restaurant opened, virtually impossible to get in Montreal. Upon request, Prêt à Manger serves red bean soup instead of fortune cookies; Sai Gwan in Chinatown has a small selection of desserts on their Chinese menu. But no restaurant has ever specialized in tong shui.
As with the congee, the selection of tong shui is large and varied. On my first visit, I tried the seasonal special, a hot pumpkin soup that was very good. On my second visit, I had cold coconut milk with tapioca, which was light, very subtly sweet and extremely refreshing. I also sampled the sago, a cassava root-based soup with pieces of grapefruit and mango, which was less impressive.
The menu also includes "ginger cooked milk" (geung jup dun nai), a custard-like dessert that I've had elsewhere and very much enjoyed. Here, it requires at least 15 minutes of preparation because it's actually made fresh from scratch. This will definitely be something to try on my next visit.
For reference, here are some Wikipedia entries you might want to check out:
My friend Cedric wrote a review of our first visit to Restaurant Congee on his blog:
Cool! Looks like a great place to stop off after my Sunday morning hockey game! I don't suppose you recall how early they open? I figure it's breakfast food. I'm very excited to try this place.
I've also heard rumours about the possibility of real soup dumplings out in Brossard... Will investigate. Hockey and eating... perfect winter morning....
That was the rumour yes, authentic Xiaolngbao... But i don't want to get my hopes up yet, so I will check it out as if I am trying regular dim sum only....
Speaking of which, gotta love those small whole deep-fried fish with the roe still in it and the head still on. Just had a whole plateful at le President the other week, and I've also seen them at Kam Fung....
Ok, I finally made it out there! Many thanks to KT MTL for the tip, it is totally worth the trip!
We stopped n our way back from our ultimate game. I had the pork and picked egg congee, partner had the chicken sweet corn and tofu congee. You get a gigantic bowl for about $6 and it is very filling. Really perfect comfort food on a cold winter night! The congee is smooth, perfect texture. The pork was very flavourful. The pickled egg I believe was one of those thousand year eggs, and I was expecting it to be quite salty, but it was actually rather bland. But you would get a whiff of smooth egg flavour with each bite. The corn in the other congee was really lovely, but I liked my pork better than the chicken.
We had gunpowder tea, which was served in a lovely pot. Very nice selection of teas, they have a tea menu!
We finished with the tapioca with fresh mango and coconut milk. What a treat it was! It was like eating a fruit soup, with the lovely tang that coconut milk gives. This place gives Asian desserts a good rep.
If you love congee, then this place is definitely worth the visit to the South Shore! I am also looking forward to trying some of their non-congee dishes, including a stewed pig foot that I saw on the menu.
Again, thanks for the tip!
Working on it. No dimsum at 9:30 pm Tuesday night. I've had some injury issues and haven't been able to play in my Sunday Brossard league. Also, I'm supposed to be on a diet, so I have to slowly go through my eating list. But will go soon...
One other caveat: Congee and soup dessert with tea course: now I understand why it is a breakfast thing. As dinner just before bedtime, not so smart. All liquid diet? Just before bedtime? My poor aging bladder didn't stand a chance. Up down up down all night. Plus I sprained my ankle last night, add that to my other older injury, well let's just say the trips were fraught with danger. But I'd do it again. I love congee...