Ten Great Rice Dishes in OC (and Long Beach)
10. The Etouffee at The Attic
The Attic's étouffée was nothing like the one I ate at Paul Prudhomme's K-Paul's in New Orleans more than 15 years ago. In that benchmark dish, rice is practically drowned with gravy thickened and colored by brown roux. The Attic's version is nearly dry, devoid of sauce, but it made up for it with so much tender shrimp and crawfish that I wonder if the Attic's ledgers weren't angry. I loved it, but also the rice, a mound as loose as sand, cooked tenderly, soaking up what little there was of the gravy and mingling with the seafood.
9. Nasi Campur at Indo Ranch
Though they're now open for lunch, for the most part, deciding to eat from Indo Ranch still means take-out and reheating the food at home. Some dishes takes some prior experience to know what do with all those condiments and sauces they give you. But if they have nasi campur, there is no assembly required. Just know that what they call nasi campur today won't be the same as what they call nasi campur tomorrow. Since nasi means rice, and campur means combination, think of it as the special of the day. For sure there will be a bowl-formed domed of it sprinkled with fried shallots, and some pickles; but for the protein, it could be chicken or fish, cooked with curry spices, or just plain fried on the bone. If you're lucky, you may even get sambal telor, which is a deep-fried egg simmered in chili paste. The one constant, as it always is with Indonesian meals, is that rice, and you can't imagine eating any of the other dishes without it.
8. Beef Bowl at Yoshinoya Beef Bowl
Yes, it's a chain, but in my opinion it's still the best bowl enterprise next to the NFL. Those salty, sweet and aromatic ribbons of sake-onion-and-soy simmered beef would be weird without the rice. And of course you need to ask for "extra juice", which simply means the fluffy grains will be doused with a ladle-full of the cooking liquid. And then there's this: you can ask for "extra skin" where they take the stripped off crispy chicken epidermis they might have thrown away and put it on top of your beef bowl, at no extra charge.