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Feb 26, 2011 11:20 AM

Bad Rice: Send it back?

this thread is based on one about rice cookers.

If I were in an italian restaurant and I got a bad batch of pasta, say overcooked. Not just past al-dente but truly mush I would not hesitate for a minute to send it back. If I am in an asian restaurant and I get bad rice, like it has been in the rice cooker for way too long staying warm - you know, crusty and dry on top, soft and mushy at the bottom - should I also send it back? Not to be racist, but do they just assume as a white person I won't know the difference? I know it is going to take at least 20 minutes for a new batch, probably a little more.

thanks for your input. oh, yeah, lets assume this is more or less a mom and pop ethnic eatery in a smaller town some distance from any asian population centers. someplace without many options.

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  1. Send it back.

    It won't take another 20 minutes. They'll just scoop out another serving from the rice cooker for you.

    1. I have to ammend my comments in the other thread. There is ONE place here in Plano where I have yet to have bad rice. You may be familiar with the chain, KM. It's L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. Two scoops of rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, lau lau and Hawaiian BBQ chicken.

      Ipsy, that's exactly the problem with sending the rice back. They just send you more of the same! <sigh> Fortunately, I RARELY (never?) go to a restaurant for their rice.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1

        ipsed, i think Caroline is right. the problem is the rice in the cooker should probably be tossed, it may have been there for several hours getting crusty on top and mushy on the bottom, especially if they aren't being careful about keeping the lid on the rice cooker closed, or even worse, moving the rice from the cooker to a warming tray once it is cooked (which now that I'm thinking about it sounds even more likely.)

        L&L is popular here Caroline, not my favorite because, at least at the branches i've been to, they put an enormous amount of mayonnaise in the mac salad, and a whole lot of msg in the food. I don't get headaches or anything, but the taste is too strong for me. But yes, they do just fine on the rice. I would be gobsmacked to find that it wasn't done in a rice cooker. But then Plano Texas isn't where I would be most likely to go looking for an L&L drive-in either.


        1. re: KaimukiMan

          Well, as folks in these here parts say, when you got a hankerin' for lau lau, it's the ONLY show in town! '-)

      2. If it's really mushy because they added too much water to it, they may not be able to help you, but you might as well ask if it's possible they'll have something else soon. Most places that cook in a gas powered rice cooker move it to a warmer after it's done, but usually the top of the rice that comes out of the pot is harder than the rice at the bottom. If it's not all mixed up they can try and get you something drier.

        Nothing irritates me more than getting mushy rice in an Asian restaurant, but I almost never send it back because as you say, usually it's all the same and it's another 30minutes until the next batch is done if it's not already cooking. If they're really busy I'll try and ask for something else because they're making new batches of rice all the time, but if it's slow I take my medicine. I do not want to imply that Thai people can't cook rice, but getting really mushy rice seems to happen to me in Thai restaurants all the time. I stick my spoon in it, I see the middle looks like a panna cotta, and my heart sinks. Meal ruined.

        One thing that should be mentioned is that in Japan the "okoge," or brown crust at the bottom is something that people fight over. In the US a lot of customers will send back rice with the okoge in it because they want all the rice perfectly white, which is kind of odd to Japanese chefs. There is a famous restaurant in Kyoto that actually serves just a thin piece of okoge in a dish by itself - it's one of the hardest reservations to get in Kyoto.

        3 Replies
        1. re: la2tokyo

          i LOVE the brown crust - but always thought i was weird for liking it!

          1. re: la2tokyo

            In Coastal Ecuador, they save the crust at the bottom and fight over it at breakfast.

            1. re: tracylee

              Do they use rice cookers there? I recall rice cooked pilaf style - long grain, lightly fried with onions and pepper, and cooked without stirring, aiming for light, well separated grains.

          2. Why would it make a difference whether it's an Italian or an Asian restaurant. If the food is not up to standard, send it back.

            8 Replies
            1. re: PeterL

              In most Italian restaurants, pasta may be cooked ahead in large batches just to an al dente stage, then stored in cold water and reheated by plunging it into hot water before plating. In most Chinese/Asian restaurants today, the rice is cooked in a large "bucket sized" rice cooker, and if part of it is overdone, chances are it will all be overdone. At least in an Italian restaurant you stand a chance of someone paying more attention to how long the pasta is reheated.

              1. re: PeterL

                I think part of it is that Chinese and Americans have different notions of what "properly cooked rice" should be.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Like Uncle Ben's Converted.........what the heck is that?

                    1. re: monku

                      It's a form of rice that has undergone a religious conversion.

                      Though back in the 1970s we called it Uncle Bum's Perverted Rice.

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        Uncle Bum's Perverted Rice
                        That's close to what I called it.
                        Supposed to be better for you with more vitamins retained.

                      2. re: monku

                        It's parboiled. Parboiling rice and then drying it for longer preservation is a practice going back many centuries - it's actually quite traditional.

                        Julia Child, noting the trademark for "converted", referred to it as avuncular rice.

                    2. Haole or not, in a mom and pop joint they aren't going to make anyone a new batch of rice.

                      Actually my favorite is the crusty rice (slightly browned even better) you get at the bottom of the pot from rice cooked on a stove.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: monku

                        yep, koge rice is great, and you won't get that in a rice cooker. but thats not the same as the dry crusty rice that forms at the top of a pile of rice that has been sitting on a warming tray in a buffet line for too long.

                        as far as making a new batch, are they pawning the old stuff off on the haoles while keeping another batch hidden in the back for 'more discerning' customers?

                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                          are they pawning the old stuff off on the haoles while keeping another batch hidden in the back for 'more discerning' customers?

                          You'd like to think that. But, no.

                          I remember the day's when restaurant rice was free (that wasn't too long ago). Still some places I can get it, but they're becoming relics.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            Besides, getting a new batch is going to take 20+ minutes...what about your other food?

                            Those 50 cup commercial rice cookers take 30-60 minutes depending on the type of rice.

                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                              haoles - is that some Hawaiian slang?

                              I wonder if this thread belongs in the Hawaii section, as opposed to general?

                              1. re: paulj

                                I think you can understand "haole" from the context here.

                                Just means "white person". Yes, it is part of the normal Hawaiian vocabulary.