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Best Thing We Ate This Weekend: Flaming Balls, Chili Crab Gumbo and More at Luckyrice
The Luckyrice sophomore effort in LA was full of bites, balls and and balloons this past Saturday. The Asian night market-inspired event was moved to a larger venue, which made it a lot easier to get to the tables helmed by chefs like Sang Yoon (Lukshon, Father's Office), Kris Yenbamroong (Night + Market) and Bryant Ng (The Spice Table), not to mention enough icy gin cocktails and bubbly Champagne to keep everyone afloat for a few hours. It was either that or the ginormous baloon backpacks and hats everyone was wearing, made by roaming balloon artistes.
We were fortunate to run through the VIP hour so we didn't have to battle any real lines, which is always a plus. But even when the masses entered around 8 PM, there were no real waits for food or drink. Unless you went to the Katsuya lounge, where a huge line snaked through the open space for hamachi hand rolls topped with caviar. While we nibbled on a lot of pork belly and salmon roe and lettuce cups, two big standouts for us (enough to go back for seconds) was the chili crab gumbo from Starry Kitchen and Seoul Sausage's "flaming balls," a spicy cheesy rice ball stuffed with spicy pork and doused in a garlic-jalapeno-sriracha aioli). It sounds like a lot, but the flavors were great. Starry Kitchen's gumbo is a real knock-out, a dish that combines the flavors of the Singaporean chili crab that's become a staple for Nguyen and Thi Tran's restaurant and those of the Bayou, which they're now serving at the newest SK location in Chinatown.
The official Luckyrice party was fun, but the offical after party - held at Yoon's Fathers Office nearby - was better, if only to share a few chuckles with the chefs who were drinking beer and eating big crisp chicharones, sweet potato fries and burgers. We may have nibbled as well, and yes, we're still full.