Readers who have patronized the trio of establishments at Loft 98 (Cantine, Shoka, and Delish) in recent weeks may have noticed the weird, bird nest frame adorning the entrance of the Chinese restaurant a few meters away. Walk into that restaurant like we did last week and you’ll find a simple, modern interior specializing in an old traditional favorite from southern China: congee.
Aptly named So Congee (头牌粥品), its menu offers a choice of either a communal hotpot of congee stock with ingredients set aside for self service; or smaller, individual clay pots prepared in the kitchen. Selections are more tilted towards water creatures: tilapia, crab, frog legs, shrimp, clams, squid; but pork, beef, and goose are also available for those who prefer a more terrestrial flavor. Combinations of meat can also be requested. Our steaming pot came out in quick order, the congee infused with a blend of shrimp, clams, green onions, and pepper. Once it cooled down, we quickly devoured the porridge, appreciating the perfect density of the grains of rice (not too soggy, not too firm) and the freshness of the seafood.
So Congee also offers up non-congee dishes, and we particularly enjoyed the tender chunks of black pepper beef cubes (48 RMB). But it’s the individual orders of congee (most flavors priced in the 20-40 RMB range, with a crab pot on the high end at 88 RMB) that will have us returning whenever we’re in the mood for a light and satisfying meal. The place is still in the soft opening stage, so service is not as tip-top as we’d like, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Note: So Congee is directly connected to a more traditional hot pot joint that’s owned by the same folks, so make sure you’re in the congee section before sitting down.
So Congee – 98 Yanping Lu, near Xinzha lu (延平路98号,近新闸路) Tel: 6267-1781, Hours: 10:30-23:30
Eric Hu is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news and gossip about Shanghai’s food scene to food at shanghaiist.com.