Rice to Riches
Review by Diana, MaceVindaloo
Rice is the theme here, and we swear, they only serve rice pudding, plus drinks and toppings appropriate for imbibing in this treat. They offer the concoction in all sorts of flavors, all sorts of colors, hot or cold. And they give it to you in flying saucer shaped containers shaped like rice grains, with tight-fitting snap-on lids. Sold in a store behind a counter shaped like a rice grain. With a storefront window shaped like a rice grain. And video displays and murals throughout the small store showing animations of what look like invasion of the colorful rice beings ...
Look, this is why we took the photos -- no one believes us unless they've been there themselves. Everything is very spaceshippy ... as if we'd been invaded and the aliens decided that rice was the Earth substance most closely shaped like their mothership ... or maybe this IS their mothership, just embedded on Spring Street in downtown Manhattan, a place where a spaceship could land and not be noticed. We swear, the bowls really are spaceship/rice grain shaped, and you get color-matched scoopy spoons to eat your rich, yummy rice pudding.
It's nothing like the cheap leftover frugality dish your grandmother might have made with milk and raisins. The substance they make is more like ice cream, flavored with marscapone, pistachio, chocolate, raspberry, etc. It's thick and unctuous, nothing slimy or pellety about it. It's $5 a serving, but one spaceship container holds a LOT -- be sure to order this "to go" so you can take it home and stick it in the fridge for breakfast or dessert tomorrow. There are webpages online dedicated to "what to do with the Rice to Riches takeout container when you've finished eating the rice pudding out of it."
The place is funky, and a fun place to come for dessert after a date or a movie. We were there on a Thursday night and it was filled with Eurotrashy types in black turtlenecks, sitting in the booth at back with the hanging tables, or leaning up against the lighted bar tables up front. There is really too much choice, including toppings and whether you want the stuff hot or cold. So the menu helpfully suggests popular combos for you to try. You can ask for a taste of any rice pudding, too -- it'll be delivered on a small spoon, reminiscent of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream counters of our callow youths.
I guess that's the point -- it's an adult dessert with childhood and youth aspects. The fantasy interior and storefront yell "FUN KITSCH" out at you, and the people who were in the place seemed happy to be there and happy to get their rice pudding. The flavors have names like "coconut coma" or "qualified lemon" or "hazlenut chocolate bear hug" or "old fashioned romance (traditional)." They have one "daily special," one "international special" and one "sugar-free special" at any given time. They want to make sure you WILL find something you like here, whether you love rice pudding or not.
I ordered half "pistachio protest" (flavored with sage) and half "man made marscapone" with dried cherries ... my eating buddy ordered a combo of "surrender to mango" and "bottomless pear." We got single orders, refraining from ordering the "samurai" container full, which feeds 4, or the "moby" which feeds 10 for $30. In truth, the portion sizes are so huge and rich that you can easily triple or quadruple the number of servings you'll get out of these containers. Not bad frozen, either. If you live nearby, they deliver, too!
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