Congee is a brunch surprise at Dahlia Lounge

Congee with grilled prawns, poached egg, scallion, and Chinese doughnut “Yeah, right.”

That’s what I said when I heard that Dahlia Lounge was cooking up congee for brunch.

Monkey bread? Makes sense. Eggs Benedict? Elegant. But congee? Can it be any good?

In a word: Yes. I often complain about the quality of Chinese food in Seattle, so it’s sort of strange that Chef Tom Douglas is the one to get it right. (But maybe not. He loves Asian food.) Those five dollar bowls of congee in the International District aren’t bad, so it’s fair to expect more from a fourteen dollar bowl.

Douglas delivers. Everything’s made in-house except for the Chinese doughnut (oily, but providing crispy goodness in contrast to the creamy congee). This bowl’s got grilled prawns, poached egg, and green onions, but what really ups the ante is the fermented black bean sauce. Trust me. The sauce adds incredible depth and flavor to the soup.

This is not a dumbed down food bowl. In contrast to many restaurants which insist on leaving out “foreign” ingredients it fears its customers might not like, Dahlia Lounge pays homage to authenticity, turning congee into comfort food that somehow feels right at home next to that monkey bread and eggs Benedict.

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2 Responses to “Congee is a brunch surprise at Dahlia Lounge”

  1. July 6, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    I tried the congee (after I asked the waiter for the correct pronunciation) at Dahlia Lounge and absolutely loved it. It was like the spicy Chinese gritz my dad never made. Unfortunately, they were out of Chinese doughnuts that morning, but I still left very satisfied.

    Well done, Chef Douglas.

  2. admin
    July 6, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    Congee with no doughnuts? How dare they? I say, “Do over!”

    Glad you enjoyed it, though!

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