Hong Kong, summer of 2016. I was on vacation with girl friends from law school and, after two nights at the Disney Hollywood Hotel, we transferred to Crowne Plaza where we stayed for the rest of the trip.
We noticed a sign by the Lobby Lounge about free flowing wine, but that was information filed in the brain “for future use.” We went shopping and took the train back to the hotel by sundown. While thinking about where to have dinner, two of us decided to take on the Lobby Lounge free flowing wine pitch. Ahhh, happy hour indeed.
We sat down and relaxed. We had been on our feet all afternoon and it felt good to just sink into a soft couch with a wine glass in hand. There were bar nuts to go with the wine and we were content. When our two friends joined us, they lost no time perusing the menu. Soon, we had fried spring rolls. Then, we had chicken wings. Fries go well with chicken wings so we had fries too.
We were the first there for happy hour and we were the last to leave. I don’t remember what else we ordered but one thing’s for sure — by the time happy hour at Lobby Lounge was over, we were no longer discussing dinner. We moved to the the bar on the 47th floor and ordered more drinks.
The memory of eating anything else eludes me although it stands to reason that we ordered more food too because we were there until almost midnight. Surely, we felt hungry at some point. But the fact that the only photo I took from the open-air bar was a blurry shot of the buildings in the vicinity means that, at that point, wine had become my best friend for the night and I was willing to neglect photography.
By the time we were back in our rooms, I was famished so I called room service for a bowl of congee. It came with mushrooms, Chinese sausage and century eggs. Delightful. Unforgettable. Looking back, I do believe that it was the first time I truly appreciated congee. I was so smitten with the blend of flavors that I decided to recreate Crowne Plaza Hong Kong’s congee at home.
Crowne Plaza Hong Kong style congee
- Slow cooker
- Rinse the rice several times.
- Place the rice in the slow cooker, pour in the broth and stir. If the broth is unseasoned or under-seasoned, add salt and pepper.
- Set the slow cooker to LOW and cook the congee for eight hours. Stir every two hours. Crank up the heat to HIGH and cook for another two hours.
- Heat the sesame seed oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms over medium heat with a little salt for about two minutes.
- Add the sausages to the mushrooms and cook for another two minutes.
- Stir the sausage / mushroom mixture, century eggs and scallions into the congee.
- Ladle congee into bowls. Serve hot with soy sauce on the side.