Since our discovery of Toronto’s equivalent to SoCal’s Rowland/Hacienda/San Gabriel Valley/China 2, Markham, and various top notch hole-in-the-walls, my parents have made it a tradition for us to go there whenever they come up and we all get together in the same place for some quality family time. The one that always heads the top of the list is Sam’s Congee Delight, located in the lesser known Market Village plaza besides the GINORMOUS Pacific Mall. The menu consists of at least 20 different kinds of congee, chinese rice porridge, with various toppings in it. We orded two, one with chicken and beef and the other with chicken and preserved egg.
Alongside the meat, they always put shredded lettuce as well as chestnuts.
This is the best porridge I have ever had in my life. Bar none. Why? I’m guessing they cook the porridge in some kind of special soup broth that’s been cooking over a stove for days. That seems like the only way they can make porridge that flavorful. The rice gluten is perfectly balanced with the water ratio resulting in a slightly viscuous liquid with rice chunks that aren’t too soggy and still retain their essence. The meats are tender and the nuts add that little zest that makes each bowl simply magical. If there was ever a porridge fairy, this is where she would take her breaks at.
Now, what would congee be without the fried doughnut? A Cantonese side dish that is commonly eaten with soups and porridge, no porridge meal is complete without it.
On the top is the regular fried doughnut (you tiao) and on the bottom is the sweetened version. The you tiao wasn’t very greasy at all which is one of the faillings of average you tiao in the states, and was a bit more doughy, allowing it to soak up more porridge when dipped. The sweetened version wasn’t as sweet as what I am used to, so I barely noticed it and didn’t know that it had been on the plate until my dad mentioned it.
Another favorite of me and my sister’s is the jia liang, which is the fried doughnut wrapped in rice noodle.
It typically comes with peanut sauce and hoisin sauce for choice of dip and drizzle with soy sauce. This one was very bare bones and once again, pretty low on the grease compared to the standard.
Another dish that just had the bare essentials, it was above average in that the flavor was there minus the heavy grease.
To top it off, sesame dessert!
This was actually a pudding rather than a soup, and like the other dishes, pretty bare bones, just a hint of sugar and all sesame. I found it to be lacking in flavor and it felt kind of like I was just slurping down nameless gook. I didn’t like the consistency, wasn’t expecting it either, but overall liked it more than I didn’t.
We just got in before the line up, in that golden time frame between late breakfast and early lunch, so we were seated promptly and received standard Chinese restaurant service, speedy and minimalistic. The place is very clean, and despite its small size, avoids feeling too cramped. And don’t forget, legendary Chinese cheapness, our total bill coming to about $25, leaving us stuffed full.
The congee is the best, but if you plan on ordering any side dishes, there are probably only a few worth ordering, and if you look around before you order, you’ll see them flying out of the kitchen.
He definitely has the looks of a magical porridge fairy.
Steeles Avenue East
Markham, ON L3R 9V7