secret congee seattle

Secret Congee Seattle

The secret is out: there’s a hidden gem in Ballard serving the most incredible congee. Known as the ultimate comfort food (a warm hug in a bowl, if you will), Secret Congee is the perfect spot to meet for a weekday lunch.

Congee is a savory rice porridge, a humble dish served all over Asia in various forms. While congee has different names in different cultures, its basic recipe is the same: rice boiled in large amounts of water and topped with protein and vegetables. The boiling process gives the rice a pleasant risotto-like texture, and the dish is hearty and just filling enough to feel comfortably full all afternoon.

Secret Congee started as a takeout-only stand inside a juice shop in Wallingford. In 2022, the restaurant relocated to Ballard, where it currently sits near Ray’s Boathouse and Cafe. On weekdays, street parking is easy to find in the neighborhood, as long as you arrive early — the lunch rush here is real.

Owner and chef JP Lertsirisin grew up eating congee made by small vendors in Thailand, forming some of his happiest childhood memories. He decided to try and recreate some of that happiness here in the states, incorporating flavors from other countries into his creations.

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The menu consists of a solid variety of congee options, with Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Korean versions available. The garlic blue crab congee and the Thai meatball congee are two popular picks, and the slow-cooked beef and kimchi congee is out of this world, with just the right amount of spice. First-timers should give the classic chicken variety a try, as it does not disappoint.

You can spruce up your congee with a side of chili oil or kimchi if you wish, but definitely make sure to add a soft-boiled egg to your order. Not only does it enhance the flavor, it’s just plain good. Another tip: order as much of the youtiao as you can. This crispy fried dough goes exceptionally well with any congee order, and it’s delicious on its own or dipped in sauce.

Secret Congee is open from Thursday to Monday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The space is small, so if you’re hoping for an indoor seat, try to beat the lunch rush. But even if you find yourself standing in line, know that this dish is well worth the wait.

For more information, visit

6301 Seaview Ave. NW
Seattle, WA 98107

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