Downtown’s newest fast casual bowl option, Rice Bar, has arrived on 7th Street. Working heirloom grains and a Filipino flavor profile, this seven-seat shop is hoping to transform the way Downtowners eat, by pairing one of Los Angeles’ most affable restaurant owners with one of its most talented chefs.
There’s certainly no spare corner left untouched inside Rice Bar, which at 275 square feet is among the smallest eateries in town, and makes even Sqirl feel downright spacious. Light-colored woods and lots of glass frontage help to give the deep room an airier feel than one might expect given its tiny footprint, while the wraparound marble bar lets customers belly up elbow-to-elbow for a quick lunch. Or, guests can grab their pickup order and a can of soda from the cooler and be on their way.
But really, hanging out inside Rice Bar is a show worth watching, as former executive chef at Patina Charles Olalia works the open kitchen to craft uniquely inspired grain bowls with a heritage. Olalia and owner Santos Uy have teamed up with heirloom rice growers in the Cordillera region of the Philippines to help bring non-GMO, fair trade rice to the restaurant, which they’re putting to good use as the base of their bowls.
One option might contain housemade longganisa sausage, bisteg tagalog (a kind of marinated Angus beef), or chicken tinola, slow-cooked Jidori chicken lashed with ginger, papaya, and chile leaves. Guests can mix and match their proteins to whichever rice they choose, and on another visit grab some pancit luglog or Spam sliders instead.
Rice Bar officially opens on July 6, with daily hours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. only, though there are plans in the future to expand into breakfast service as well.