QUESTION: Congee, or rice porridge, has always struck me as the finest of breakfasts: nutritious, light and utterly absorptive, which, after the kind of nights out I’ve been having lately, strikes me as a redemptive virtue, indeed. Yet the Thai restaurants that seem to feature congee — I’m looking right at you, Torung — are rarely open at an hour of day that would suggest breakfast to anybody but rock stars, night watchmen and possibly columnists for the L.A. Weekly. Have you run across any morning congee worth mentioning?
—Melissa, Highland Park
ANSWER: Hong Kong–style congee gets more attention, but you’re right — Thai congee is definitely among the best of breed. Especially when you load the warm, soothing goo with enough of that fish-sauce-and-chile condiment to blast the pupils right out of your eyeballs. Some of the most delicious Thai congee in town, oddly enough, is served in the mornings at Saladang Song, which is a sleekly upscale restaurant celebrated more for the Bauhaus chinoiserie of its architecture than for its cerebral (if oversweetened) takes on Bangkok street food, and which we’d never imagined to be open in the mornings at all. And I suspect that the breakfasts here are more for the benefit of the people who work at the restaurant than they are for any possible customer base — the giant dining room is all but empty before noon. Yet there it is: elegant congee, served with all sorts of pickles, chiles and garnishes that range from safe to wildly funky, a Ritz-Carlton brand of congee, perhaps, but very, very good. Saladang Song, 383 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, (626) 793-5200.
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