No more draining grains: “rice” for the occasion with deliciously crunchy chasyu onigiri and pilaf-like pesto rice.
But even with starch as ubiquitous as this — rice is the staple food of more than half the world’s population, after all — there can be days when plain rice can get boring.
Yes, as much as I adore rice, another bowl of steamed white rice can sometimes be a nuisance, or a “grain drainer,” if you will.
Sacrilege, I know.
That’s why I look for new ways to enjoy this humble grain from time to time. What I’ve discovered is that sometimes the best way to excite the palate is to combine flavors or techniques from different food traditions.
Takes OnigiriThe famous Japanese rice ball. For those of us who fall by A konbini Every chance we get when traveling to Japan, it is a lifesaver.
Often they are shaped into triangles rather than round balls, Onigiri You can delight in fillings ranging from tuna or salmon in mayonnaise to unique Japanese ingredients such as Umeboshi (pickled plum), Dragon (marinated cod roe), katsuobushi (bonito flakes), and Tsukudani combo (seaweed side dish).
What happens when you mix things up a little by incorporating non-Japanese ingredients into your food Onigiri?
I experienced this firsthand at Airplane Mode Coffee in Taman Rasa Sayang, PJ. Run by veteran barista Seng Thong, the café is known for its excellent espresso-based and filter coffees as well as its homemade coffee. Chacio.
Cantonese-style grilled pork belly is typically featured in Airplane Mode Coffee’s signature dishes like the Charcoal Grilled Pork Belly Rice Bowl and the APM Porky Sandwich.
Sing Thong also incorporated his decadent ChacioGooey with a layer of caramel and kissed by the smoke of a charcoal grill, in Onigiri.
Chasiu Onigiri in airplane mode is no different than coffee Yaki Onigiri Or grilled rice ball. Along with shredded crumbs ChacioEvery bite reveals hidden treasures like pickled cucumbers, seaweed and sesame seeds.
It’s the lightly toasted crust that makes this Onigiri Standout – the two best cuisines, Japanese and Cantonese.
Obviously, playing with textures can make a big difference.
While Airplane Mode Coffee’s Chasiu Onigiri is more compact (although more pliable than, say, a Malaccan chicken rice ball, which is meant to be dense and compact), the fluffy grains of Ebony & Ivory Coffee’s Pesto Rice barely stick together. Some.
In fact, the resulting rice is almost pilaf-like in how each grain of rice is separated, held together only by an herby pesto made in-house. No bottled stuff here.
This dedication to fresh produce and fine foods, coupled with a casual dining atmosphere, has been a trademark of Ebony & Ivory since they first opened in Taman Cheras years ago. Run by married couple Cheong May Lee and Ejay Loi, the café has become a popular destination for breakfast, lunch and tea.
So much so that they had to rent another store nearby to accommodate more customers, many of whom are regulars. (Tip: The view of the greenery outside is very relaxing.)
Who can blame them for classic dishes like the Minced Pork Scrambled Egg Rice Bowl, Kurobuta Tonkatsu Beef with Umu Curry Rice, Som Tam with Mackerel on Coconut Rice, and the Bunga Kantan Rice Bowl with Teriyaki Chicken?
Truly a paradise for the serious Tong fan.
However, it’s the grilled chicken breast over pesto rice that I keep coming back to: moist French-style chicken breast with gravy; A Mexican-inspired cilantro vinaigrette that looks and tastes green, and the sharp arugula provides some much-needed piquancy to balance it all out.
Italian pesto sauce, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, coarse salt, bright basil leaves and tangy olive oil. Who knew it would go so well with rice? (Pair this with one of their specialty latte’s.)
Our fresh ebony and ivory pesto sauce also appears in other dishes, including traditional Italian pesto linguini. Even here, there is some Japanese influence as the noodles are served with fried salmon croquettes.
The croquettes are coated with panko, the softest crumb made from Japanese milk loaves. Results? Crispy golden brown crust and creamy salmon filling – again, more textural contrasts.
Why sample from one country’s cuisine when you can sample many cuisines, provided the flavor pairings are appropriate?
At the very least, we know they do it at Airplane Mode Coffee and Ebony & Ivory.
So, whether you prefer an intensely flavorful ball of rice studded with bits of grilled pork or spoonful after spoonful of deep green rice dusted with – what else? -More parmesan, you know there will be caterers doing the “rice” for the occasion (no apologies for this awful, nasty pun).
Better yet, take a leaf out of Barbenheimer’s playbook and enjoy them both. We live in Malaysia, after all, a food haven; Here we can get our Onigiri And pesto rice – and eat them too!
Airplane mode coffee
9A, 1, Jalan SS 4C/5, Taman Rasa Sayang, PG
Open daily (except Wednesday closed) from 9am to 6pm
Ebony and ivory coffee
no. 4A, Jalan Kaskas 4, Taman Cheras, Kuala Lumpur
Open daily from 10am to 6pm
Phone: 013-616 1286
For more slice-of-life stories, visit lifeforbeginners.com.
*This is an independent review where the writer paid for the meal.
*Follow us on Instagram @eatdrinkmm for more food gems.