Thursday, February 10, 2011

Guest Post: Rice

81 Washington Street
Dumbo, NY  11201
(718) 222-9880

It pleasures me to be submitting another guest report to Philly Phoodie's arsenal of culinary adventures - so here goes.

On a recent business trip to the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, our hostess suggested we do a "quick but leisurely sit-down lunch at a great little place" called Rice. She went on to tell the story of how, "originally owned by 2 partners, they split and now it's run solely by David [Selig]. It's like a Japanese-Mexican fusion restaurant where all of the dishes involve rice." Well, right off the bat, I'm not really interested. Rice is okay, but I'd prefer it NOT to be the focal point of any of my meals, but she's an incredible lady, with a great heart, so what's the difference?


The place is small, with seating for about 30 people, but it's also very warm and inviting - with ceiling lamps made of repurposed rice sacks that emit a sort of umber glow, it literally felt 10 degrees warmer because of the lighting. The menu is small and not too exciting. It was exactly how she'd described it, but with more of an Asian flair than anything.  

I started with the chicken tomatillo tamale, at the server's suggestion, which was served with a chipotle aioli sauce for dipping. The tamale was quite good. The corn masa mix was moist and fluffy, the filling was flavorful with large chunks of tender white chicken and perfectly cooked corn kernels laced with a mild tomatillo puree. Without the dip, it would have been just another boring tamale, but that smoky pepper-mayo sauce really set it off and gave a much needed spicy kick. I will say that a friend had the chicken mole version and the mole seemed dry and had no essence of peppers or chocolate - the backbone to a great mole sauce.  I'm not quite sure what was even in that "sauce".

For my actual lunch, I ordered a small bowl of the Thai beef salad. Now, any of these entrees can be ordered with your choice of rice - as seen on the front of their menu, so I asked our server what he recommended go with my selection. He said either the basmati or rice and peas, and I wasn't in the mood for bland old rice, so I went with the latter.


Well, I suppose I should have known that 'salad' would infer 'cold' but I guess my head wasn't really in the game that day. My beef was chilled, along with the chopped iceberg and (not)pickled carrots and the "lemongrass dressing" tasted like a mild white wine viniagrette. The "rice and peas" (red beans) was warm, but nearing cold at service and packed more flavor than anything else in the bowl, but still tasted like a plain old bowl of rice. Everyone else seemed to thoroughly enjoy their meals, as seen below: chiken satay, Indian chicken curry, edamame and Mexican chicken soup, a side of lentils.

Maybe things are different in New York, because I know in Philadelphia that I like my foods to be flavorful, filling and usually hot - not to mention fatty. Maybe it's that I didn't order the right things, or maybe it was a bad day in the kitchen, but let's face it, Rice is definitely NOT for me. (And it's probably not for anyone who likes bold flavors in their food - especially food that's claiming to be ethnically fused.)


Charles Moss said...


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