Secret Congee might not be a secret for long! It is nestled in the quaint neighborhood of Wallingford in Seattle just north of Lake Union. Secret Congee is a walk up window you will find near the corner of Wallingford Ave N and N 44th Street. You will find the window co-located with Juisala – a health food store. Currently, Secret Congee is open Wednesday – Sunday from 9am to 2:30pm. Side note: once Secret Congee closes down for the night, Drunken Chicken takes over the space from 4-8pm! So if you hang around long enough you can try both in the same trip. Win Win!
If you haven’t had congee before, it is a type or rice porridge that has a similar consistency to oatmeal or grits but with much more flavor. It is a staple in asian cuisine and culture and is especially perfect during the colder months. It is a hearty dish that warms you up from the inside out and keeps you satisfied for hours. I have been fortunate enough to travel to China a few times and have tried this simple, humble dish. Congee was very popular in the region where I lived and was served for breakfast with a side of hard boiled or century eggs (a preserved egg). There is so much that you can do with congee and in Asian countries it is often served as a side dish and is popular for breakfast. I love what Secret Congee has done to elevate the dish and bring their own, unique flavors and offerings to really showcase this dish and show how flavorful it can be. Secret Congee cooks their rice in chicken bone broth, with the exception of their vegetarian option, which is cooked in vegetable broth.
Their menu is simple but incredible and changes based on season, so make sure to check their website for their current offerings. Typically they will have a vegetarian, chicken, beef and seafood option that is hand crafted to pair the flavors perfectly. We grabbed the Tom Yum Shrimp and Braised Beef + Kimchi. The Tom Yum comes with a generous helping of shrimp (and these shrimp are giant, not those baby cocktail shrimp) with fried garlic, ginger, scallions, peanuts, and tom yum sauce. It is definitely on the spicier side with pepper flakes throughout and a few whole peppers added in – so be warned if you are not up for too spicy. Stirring and getting a bite of ginger in each spoonful can help reduce the heat a bit. The heat definitely starts slowly and continues as you are eating it. The flavors do all mesh well together and it was the perfect lunch for a chilly, rainy day. The Braised Beef + Kimchi features a fall-apart, juicy, tender hunk of meat, kimchi and scallions. It is slightly simpler from the Tom Yum but equally delicious. This is a wonderful option if you are looking for something with a bit less spice. You can also add a soft boiled or century egg to your congee, and I highly recommend grabbing one or the other. And definitely don’t forget an order or two of the youtiao. Youtiao is a traditional chinese fried donut that is typically shaped like a long stick, which is perfect for dunking and dipping.
For their up to date menu check here.