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Back To Basics

Ono, You Know

November 19, 2017

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

The editor warms up to Canton Seafood’s Chicken Jook, which is currently on special for $7.99.

Sometimes in life, it’s best to keep things simple.

So what does that mean for our dining routines during the most festive time of year — when indulgent holiday feasts are around every corner, and nearly all of our seasonal bites are dressed up in some form of edible tinsel?

Well, it means there’s room for simplicity, too. When you — or your tummy, rather — need a minute to recharge with some light, nourishing fare, you can always turn to the balancing goodness of easy, home-style rice soup.

From Vietnamese chao to Korean juk, rice soups are part of the foundations of many Asian cuisines, and they’re known to promote good digestion as well as nurse people back to health.

Best of all, the unadulterated nature of their homey ingredients fill these porridges with overflowing comfort.

We’re about to dive right into some of the most popular types of rice soup here in Ono, You Know, but first, I’ll leave you with a little tip: If you don’t know what to do with your leftover turkey from Thanksgiving this year, use it to make a classic jook, as the poultry is a popular ingredient in the Chinese-style rice soup.

NOOK UP WITH THIS

Of course, you don’t have to spend time in the kitchen to enjoy a fantastic bowl of jook. Seeing as it is a traditional Chinese specialty, Canton Seafood Restaurant offers a number of jook recipes for patrons to enjoy.

Canton Seafood’s Chicken Jook

According to manager Henry Gong, the rice porridge remains popular among Chinese diners because “it’s good for your health and easy to digest. It tastes good, too, and you feel good after eating jook.”

Now is the perfect time to try one of Canton Seafood’s rice soups, as the cooler fall weather has inspired the restaurant to offer a handful of its jook options at a discounted price during November. Cozy up to a bowl of chicken, pork, beef or vegetarian-friendly vegetable jook, as well as Preserved Egg and Salty Pork jook, for just $7.99 (normally $8.99 each). Or choose the Seafood or Fish Fillet jook for $8.99 (normally $9.99).

The eatery also offers Plain Rice Soup and Abalone and Chicken with Rice Soup on its menu.

I recently stopped by to try a classic spoonful of Chicken Jook, which soothed my taste buds — and soul — with the wonderfully thick texture of the porridge as well as pure hints of green onion and ginger, the latter of which is a staple jook seasoning that also promotes digestive health.

Gong notes that customers may request thicker or thinner jook, depending on their preferences, and the great thing about it is, this dish will give you that satisfying full feeling without weighing you down.

In addition to these autumnal soups, keep in mind that Canton Seafood’s party menus for 10-12 people are ideal for the holiday season. Available for dine-in and takeout, the menus range in price from $198 to $398 and feature nine to 10 sharable items, including soup, entrees and dessert. Lunchtime at the eatery also is a great time to take advantage of the following deals: Two-choice plates are served with rice and soup for $8.99, while more than 50 lunch specials range in price from $6.99 to $8.50.

OFF-THE-CHARTS FLAVOR

In Japanese culture, zosui offers the same comfort as any other rice soup, but it’s linked to a dining experience and flavor profile all its own.

Umami-ya’s zosui may be enjoyed at the end of one’s shabu shabu feast. PHOTO COURTESY UMAMI-YA SHABU SHABU

Though the traditional cooked-rice soup is served as a side dish toward the end of a shabu shabu or nabe feast — wherein diners cook their own meats and vegetables in savory broths at the table — many would argue that zosui is the best part of the meal. That’s because it’s meant to soak up every last drop of the rich broth — which, by the time it is mixed into the zosui, has reached its full flavor potential thanks to all the meats and vegetables that have enriched it throughout the cooking process.

“The appealing aspect (of zosui) is definitely the umami-rich broth acquired from the shabu shabu,” confirms Angela Choi, director of marketing for Umami-ya Shabu Shabu, a fantastic spot to try zosui that opened earlier this year.

At Umami-ya, Japanese, Korean and local culinary influences come together for an upscale shabu-shabu experience, and all of the hot-pot selections are topped off with a choice of udon or zosui. When you go for the rice soup, you’ll also savor the fine quality of its ingredients. “Our zosui consists of the reduced broth, premium-quality sweet rice, one fresh egg, nori and sesame oil,” adds Choi.

While you can’t go wrong with Umami-ya’s menu, one shabu shabu selection you’ll want to top off with zosui is the grand opening special, which presents a choice of Kurobuta pork belly, ribeye or short rib along with veggies and broth for just $19.95. Don’t wait to try it, either, as this special offering will soon be coming to an end, according to Choi.

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