Don’t forget the niche / variants:
Vietnamese Chao - Trieu Chau Santa Ana I recall made a good one but it was more Vietnamese Chinese Chiu Chow. Places that specialize in Central Vietnamese Cuisine sometimes would have it as well (7 course beef restaurant in San Francisco for example, would have a beef chao course near the end), and I vaguely recall even Brodard’s version of Chao was ok a few years ago. Look for slight variations of Chao between restaurants and why they are different (from the density of some to the watered down nature of some interpretations)
Teochew/Chiu Chow Cantonese juk - Seafood Palace makes an excellent rendition (hopefully still so, been a few years since I last had it, the location at Las Tunas). If I were to compare I’d say the Chao at Trieu Chau is close in flavor, but far more dense. The version at SP tastes exactly like the kind you find at Chiu Chow restaurants in Hong Kong which also was a great pleasure to have again. The rice grains are cooked but not to the point where they pop and turn into puffy creamy clouds like Cantonese juk, although a lot of good flavor. It’s a different beast altogether compared to Taiwanese style which is used to supplement the small plates stir fry/steam table deliciousness.
Suggestion for the article: might also be informative if describing the texture of all the variations, history/culture as appropriate, and the (general) process of cooking (even better if the chefs are willing to share in general how they cook it…avoid the places that just do shortcuts), in addition to what other foods are paired with it normally.
The congee/jook snobs in Hong Kong judge a bowl just plain (as is). The bowls that contain meat/innards or seafood tend to have other distractions in it (in addition to MSG). The plain one (if HK Cantonese), should be at a minimum a blend of old crop/new crop rice, maybe some dried scallops/conpoy, and the creaminess can be achieved by adding some yuba/tofu skin on top during cooking (at least if doing it at home). Some add gingko nut and of course there’s always some ginger around…and whatever base stock/seasoning is required. But this is HK…a lot of that labor intensive work and nuance gets lost across the Pacific…
Oh I’m sure Porridge + Puffs needs to be mentioned in the article for something that’s unique / out of box!