1. Onigiri by Shuai Wang, chef/co-owner, Short Grain, Charleston, S.C.
“Untraditional Japanese” is the tagline of Shuai Wang’s Charleston, S.C., food truck, and rice is the ingredient that binds all the wide-ranging, fearless flavors together. There are “O.G.” chirashi bowls with puffed rice, Japanese fried chicken with sushi rice and lemon mayo and also these adorable triangular rice ball snacks, known as onigiri. “Ours are typically stuffed with some kind of local market fish, spicy mayo, a little ponzu and pickled ginger,” Wang says.
2. Carolina Gold by Brian Fisher, chef, Entente, Chicago
Carolina Gold rice is a cornerstone of Low Country cooking. Fans favor its stronger flavor (with nutty undertones) and more toothsome texture than other rice. It’s on the menu at Chicago’s Entente, where Chef Brian Fisher pairs the Southern staple with black truffle, duck egg and parmigiano.
3. Caldeirada de Peixe with tomato rice by Rohini Dey, culinary director/founder/owner, Vermilion, Chicago and New York City
At Vermilion, Dey fuses Indian and Latin cuisines, melding them into some truly mesmerizing plates, like this Brazilian seafood stew. The flavors are a deep dive into fenugreek and coconut, and the rice is no exception. It’s infused with tomato flavor, so it stands up beautifully to the bold stew.