Hitchhiker’s Guide to Chinese Restaurants #1: Rice

by Mr. Nobel

Pro tip: never get fried rice at a Chinese restaurant. Never, ever, ever, ever. There are some exceptions. For instance, if the fried rice constitutes the entirety of an entree dish, you’re probably safe. If the fried rice is jazzed up with very expensive (relatively speaking here) items, you can probably order it without much concern.

On the other hand, if a restaurant’s giving the choice between fried rice and white rice along with your entree, always go white (or maybe brown) rice. Why? Well, there’re two reasons – one pretentious reason and one legitimate reason.

The pretentious argument: the chef made his dishes to pair with white rice. White rice has certain properties that fried rice does not. White rice is more absorbent than fried rice, which has already been saturated with oil and that soy sauce crap.  White rice is also largely tasteless. It exists as a textural accouterment to the dish and as a sponge for excess sauce/oils. Fried rice introduces its own flavor (a mix of salty and greasy) to the fray. It serves as a distraction to the main dish, pulling your attention away from the flavors that the chef wanted.

The other reason is a far more cogent one: fried rice is usually shit rice. 99% of the places that offer fried rice in lieu of white rice will use the shittiest cooked rice they have on hand to cook it. You’re delusional if you think a Chinese restaurant would use freshly cooked rice. My mother wouldn’t even do that. No effort’s really put in to make the dish. Toss in some stale, leftover white rice, add some soy sauce and some poorly thawed frozen veggies. Call it a day. God help if you if you get the special fried rice, i.e. the rice with added nubbins of crap. Be fucking ware of char siu fried rice. A generous dollop of soy sauce hides almost infinite amounts of spoiled food.