Rice Bar, chef Charles Olalia’s tiny Filipino restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, is closing; the last day of service is Friday.
“After four years in our tiny kitchen, we have connected with an amazing community that gave back 10-fold,” Olalia wrote in an email. “It was an experience of a lifetime that I will be forever grateful for.” Olalia wrote that the lease on the space is up and he decided not to renew it.
Olalia opened Rice Bar the summer of 2015 in a 275-square-foot space, serving the food he grew up with in Manila to the folks who gathered for lunch at the seven-seat counter. The chef built his dishes of adobo, pancit, lechon and more with heirloom rice, farmers market produce, housemade longanisa and dried anchovies, combining local ingredients, classical technique and homey dishes — he once featured a different version of adobo every week for nearly a year.
Before opening his own place, the chef had spent most of his 12-year career in American kitchens cooking French food, including at Guy Savoy, the French Laundry and four years at Patina, where he was Joachim Splichal’s executive chef until 2014. Olalia opened his second restaurant, Ma’am Sir, a more sophisticated take on Filipino cuisine in a space with seven times the capacity, in 2018. Over the years, both Rice Bar and Ma’am Sir made appearances on our 101 best restaurants list.
As the late Jonathan Gold wrote in The Times, “After so many years of neglect, modernized Filipino cooking is finally coming into its own, and Olalia’s tiny counter has a lot to do with its renaissance.”
“I hope to raise the Rice Bar flag again soon,” Olalia wrote.