Thursday, 4 April 2013

Congee Queen Thornhill, ON – simple, tasty congee, BBQ duck and best of all, open late!

After a flight back to Canada, we had a layover at the Toronto Pearson, so instead of catching up on some precious precious shut eye, we headed out to grab a late night snack with some of my relatives who lived in the area… sort of, but apparently to little "small" city me, commuting for hours isn’t part of what I’d like to call normal!  Anyways, definetely appreciated the time and distance they had to come out to get me and of course... the food!

After our trip, though we had initially planned to grab some kick ass sushi, maybe something advant garde, or if we were really hungry, a crazy tower of lobster from Fisherman Clubhouse...

That’s a fellow foodie who told me about this feast.. this platter "only" has 2 lobsters… ~12lbs.. And you can easily order even LARGER towers of lobster...pretty crazy awesome!!!
But, we were pretty exhausted and was craving more simple fare... Heehee.. my uncle wanted to surpass his last record of 5 or 6 lobster tower :P Lobster tower will have to wait till the next time I have more tummy space and more time in Toronto!  
Years ago, I was introduced to Congee Queen after a long long road trip, and it was a small dinky little restaurant with super friendly staff, and down to earth simple Chinese homey Chinese food.   This was what I craved after hours of recycled air and airline seats which took perverse pride in contorting the human body into the most uncomfy stiff positions ever.  A quick stop at a hotel close to the airport to dump off our luggage, and off we went!  We hit up my uncle’s favorite location.. which happened to be the flagship store, and just like the small little one I visted years ago, staff were friendly and this waiter popped into the pic when he saw me dig out my camera for a quick shot of the dining area... literally... he was rummaging for something behind the counter, peeked, up, gave a michevious grin and popped up into the pic just as I took it :)

Well, there was definitely a lot more choice on the menu than a few years ago! For those not in the know, congee is a rice broth or stew (viscosity of congee depends on region of China) served plain with ginger and green onions (like plain udon so you really appreciate the simple flavors), or can be dressed up with unlimited savory traditional and untraditional combinations. There was large selection of special congees – with combinations including lobster, shrimp, chicken, BBQ duck, vegetables, pumpkin (yes, I said pumpkin) and even a 6 grain congee for those that wanted more fiber I guess!  I didn’t see one right off the bat with a thousand year old egg... egg is preserved, but not for 1000 years!), so my uncle picked one of his favs – the Seafood Super Bowl Congee with tiger shrimp, scallop, salmon, basa fillet, crab meat and squid… yeah, it was dressed up, with all that seafood goodness just hiding under the surface.. no football though lol!

And here’s a close up of the velvety slow cooked congee with perfectly cooked sweet crisp large shrimp... nah, I'd have to call it a prawn in my bowl.  Too large to be called a mere shrimp!  The fish pieces were generous in size (not pictured cuz they were sitting in other folk's bowls) – hefty large chunks of rich fatty salmon and tender basa fillet a nice contrast to the silky congee.  No blenderizing shortcuts to this slow cooked congee! Nom!!

As they were known from their BBQ items, we tried half a portion of BBQ roast duck.  Despite the late hour, the duck was still warm, with crisp flavorful skin, and each bite a moist, rich and fatty nomnomnom!

It was served with a small portion of traditional baked beans – no ordinary baked beans, as these beans are slowly cooked in the drippings of the BBQ duck or pork, absorbing all those delicious salty sweet savory concentrated flavors!

As my brain started to shut down from lack of sleep, and/or gently sliding into a happy food coma, this aromatic and fully loaded fried rice came out.  Not sure what it was called, but it was packed full of moist BBQ pork pieces, crisp tiger shrimp, scrambled eggs, sweet peas, and some type of meat jerky floss on top (pork floss is my guess). Tasty!

Picture self explanatory :P  I was hoping for a bit more vegetables, but it was a good mix of tiger shrimp, squid, carrots, beef, BBQ pork cha siu strips and gai lan in a light glaze on top of crispy noodles.

Full and replete, my relatives packed up the leftovers for their midnight snack, and we headed off to the hotel for sleepy land to fly back home the next day.  Overall, this Congee Queen lives up to my fond memories of its small, grassroot startup restaurant years ago, and still makes great homestyle comforting fare along with its new(er) ventures into BBQ territory.

Congee Queen
Address 2930 Steeles Ave E, Thornhill, ON L3T7X1
Phone (905) 731-3880
Hours Mon-Thur 10:30am- midnight, Fri 10:30am-1am, Sat 10am-1am, Sun 10am-midnight
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1 comment:

Jonathan Ngo said...

I love this place and I'm glad you got to try it out! We'll have to show you even more places next time you get a chance to come down to Toronto :)

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