Taiwanese Congee at its bestest!

February 25, 2010 in Food, Taiwan, Travel by pacejmiller

Restaurant: The Village of Gruel
Cuisine: Congee + side dishes
Price: Around TWD 300-500 per person depending on what you order
Location: 226 JiLin Road, Jhongshan District, Taipei, Taiwan; 105, Section 4, ShiMin Boulevard, Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan
Contact: Jhongstan store – (02) 2541 7366; Songshan store – (02) 2570 1577
Website: www.mehome.com.tw

I’m usually not a big fan of congee.  It’s watery, bland, and not very filling.  Food for people with gastro.

And so you can imagine my scepticism when on one of our last nights in Taipei, we went to this congee place called “The Village of Gruel” (I didn’t even bother trying to figure out what that’s all about).  Let’s just say it came highly recommended.

The Village of Gruel has a traditional, old-school Chinese restaurant feel to it.  Like a place you might see in an old martial arts film, except with a touch of modernity to it.

The food, on the other hand, is awesome.  The thing I always hated about congee was its tastelessness, but “Gruel” infuses its congees with unbelievable flavour. Apparently it has something to do with the special rice, Chinese herbology and cooking the pot for a very long time.

(to read on and see the pictures, click on ‘more’)

Taken outside in the rain

The chicken and mushroom congee was my favourite.  The congee was thick, and the soup (not water, soup) was full of chicken and mushroom flavour.  It’s not like the taste was added through flavouring – the taste came from deep within, thanks to the slow/fast cooking pot.

But that’s not all.  You can also throw in some shallots, diced pickled vegetables and some fermented crap to add more taste to it, if you like.

The other congee we tried was infused with the flavour of Chinese meats and sausages, also very nice.  I also wanted to taste the crab congee, the fish congee and the prawn congee, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

However, we did get to sample their delicious side dishes, including chicken with hot pepper sauce, fried taro sticks, seaweed strips, and bean curd skin (I hate bean curd so I didn’t touch it).  The best of the lot, though, was the sensational marinated pork ribs.  They even give you a plastic bag glove so you don’t have to dirty your hands while you chew off the delicious, juicy meat off the bone.

To cleanse the palate, we had some fresh kiwi juice with aloe vera chunks.  Sweet.

So I arrived at The Village of Gruel a sceptic of congee, and I left it a believer.  You just have to make the darn thing right!

8 out of 10!