There are few issues extra soothing than a sizzling bowl of congee. Rising up I often ate it in the type of pei dan sau yuk jook — a silky Cantonese congee peppered with juicy bits of pork and century egg. As an grownup I discovered that this was only one model amongst the limitless variations of congee loved throughout completely different east and southeast Asian cuisines, most of them recognized by completely different names. The congee diaspora is huge: there’s juk in Korea, cháo in Vietnam, bubur in Indonesia, okayu in Japan, and hsan in Myanmar, every nation that includes its personal localized methods of cooking, serving, and consuming the dish. And at one restaurant in Los Angeles, there’s congee pot pie.
This interpretation of the basic dish is the creation of Yangban Society, a Korean American deli and market in Downtown L.A.’s Arts District helmed by cooks and companions Katianna and John Hong. After main the kitchens at Meadowood and Constitution Oak in Napa Valley’s world of nice eating, Katianna dreamed of the subsequent stage of her profession: cooking meals that felt private and significant, organically mixing Korean and American flavors that replicate her heritage. This dream manifested as Yangban Society, the couple’s first solo restaurant, the place the menu attracts inspiration from Korean flavors, regional California components, and Katianna’s childhood recollections of visiting Jewish and European delis in New York.
Whereas Yangban Society’s menu is anchored with Korean classics like crispy soy garlic wings and kimchi fried rice blended with succulent slices of pork stomach, there’s no scarcity of ingenious choices: fries served with fermented black bean jajang sauce and melted mozzarella; avocado with Asian pear and furikake in a sizzling mustard French dressing; loaded baked potato mandu made with bacon fats, sherry vinegar, and soy. But it surely’s the congee, served as a pot pie, that unites two very acquainted staples to create a brand new, sudden consolation meals.
Congee is steeped in historical past — certainly one of its earliest references dates again to 1,000 B.C. Some imagine the dish was born out of a necessity to increase meals for so long as doable since a cup of rice may yield a pot of congee massive sufficient to feed a complete household. Others take into account it a therapeutic meals that aids in the digestion and absorption of natural drugs, its heat supporting spleen and kidney perform. Congee is extremely versatile and may be loved as a easy meal or dressed up as a part of an opulent feast. It’s aptly featured at Yangban Society, the place Katianna and John have reinterpreted the time period yangban (the aristocratic class that after dominated Korea) to encapsulate the approachability of their restaurant in each ambiance and worth.