Some people are obsessed with rice. Go to their houses and you'll find electric rice cookers, small and large, maybe one of those woven bamboo cones used to steam Thai sticky rice, or a thick-sided ceramic donabe specially designed for cooking rice. I once saw a Japanese woman in kimono walk into the Madrid Ritz hotel with her rice cooker. Obviously, her rice had to be just so.
Right at the top of the list is Sang Yoon's heirloom black rice, which, fortunately, is on the menu at both lunch and dinner at Lukshon. You get a bowl of the blackest rice, each grain separate, with nuggets of oily, rich lap cheong (cured Chinese pork sausage) tucked in there with roasted garlic and threads of red and green — and on top a perfect fried egg, its yolk a deep gold ocher. Don't miss the gingery crab fried rice either, made at this season with Maryland blue crab, pea tendrils and serrano chile. The best seats in the house? The stools at the counter looking onto the kitchen, where you can watch the cooks work the woks.
3239 Helms Ave., Culver City, (310) 202-6808, lukshon.com. Heirloom black rice and crab fried rice, $12.
Orsa & Winston
At his Japanese-Italian-inspired restaurant, Josef Centeno has an utterly seductive satsuki rice bowl. (And yes, it will still be on the next two months' yakitori menu as well.) He loves the rice that sushi master Mori Onedera is growing in Uruguay for its wonderful flavor and chew. But instead of steaming it, for this dish Centeno cooks the rice like risotto and tops it with spiny lobster, abalone, black cod, Dungeness crab or even a thin slice of Piedmontese beef carpaccio drizzled with warm porcini ghee. His favorite version, though, is crowned with geoduck and Hokkaido uni (sea urchin) — and, if he can get it, Sichuan pepper leaf and shiso buds.
122 W. 4th St., Los Angeles, (213) 687-0300, www.orsaandwinston.com. Satsuki rice bowl, $25.
In the mood for something light but delicious? At Sqirl, that would be the crispy rice salad. The rice is crisp and puffed, tossed with lemon grass, mint leaves and cucumber, and seasoned with ginger and a squirt of bright lemon. For a heartier dish in which you get something different in each bite, go for "the works," with nuggets of the house sausage and a fried egg on top, the yolk still molten. The other favorite is the bowl of Kokohu Rose brown rice (sold at the counter too) mixed with a grassy green nut-free pesto, preserved Meyer lemon, a special fermented hot sauce, sliced radish, French sheep's milk feta and, of course, an egg, in this case, poached.
720 N. Virgil Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 284-8417, sqirlla.com. Crispy rice salad, $7.50 to $11; sorrel pesto rice bowl, $7.75.
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