>> Rice n' Spice Sri Lankan Cuisine | Eat the World Los Angeles

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Rice n' Spice Sri Lankan Cuisine


COVID-19 UPDATE: The restaurant is still only doing takeout and delivery orders and has not opened for indoor dining as of the time of this writing.

Rice N' Spice was not the first Sri Lankan restaurant to come to Orange County, but for the duration of its life it has remained the only one currently open. Since its doors swung out to the eclectic strip mall it lives in at the beginning of 2016, it saved trips to the Valley for families of that island nation living in the more southern reaches of Los Angeles County and its neighbor to the south.

As of mid-April, the restaurant is still just open for takeout, so you will see Sri Lankan families sneak in and out quickly with their meals while old timers of a much different crowd come out of the fully open sports bar on the corner for a smoke. There is also a Mexican restaurant in this two building plaza, as well as a vegetarian Vietnamese, a few chain fast food spots, and a diner. The perfect place for one of the Southland's more rare foods to inhabit.

While hoppers and string hoppers, two uniquely Sri Lankan versions of starch are a bit risky during pandemic times and hard to reheat, it only makes looking forward to the next sit down meal all the more exciting. In its place, an order of beef kottu ($13.49, above) may not be much to look at after reheating and re-plating, but is a great source of starch all the same.

This dish can also be referred to as kottu roti, or chopped roti, and is a stir-fried delight made with a different recipe from every chef. For those that have traveled to Sri Lanka, it of course brings back great memories of many melt-your-face-off meals had in the casual restaurants of cities and towns. There the dish is never not spicy, but here they have allowed for a mild, medium and spicy spectrum. Medium did just fine to form beads of sweat on the forehead.

Rice N' Spice sell what they call lunch packets, which originally were just presumed to be the description of lamprais, but are more simple meals of rice, vegetables, and the meat of your choice. The thing they do share in common is being wrapped up in a banana leaf and easy to transport and reheat. This lunch packet may be closer to what a lamprais was back in the days of its Dutch Burgher roots, especially considering the name is a derivative of what means "packet of food" in Dutch.

But nowadays at least, lamprais are a complex cacophony of ingredients, based again around rice and wrapped in a banana leaf for cooking. The chicken lamprais ($13.49, above and below) is a packet that also contains a hard-boiled egg, sambol made with fried shrimp, eggplant, and pineapple curry. The meat has been marinated for what seems like forever, and the rice is simmered in broth, a combination that gives you such different pleasures with each bite.

You can snag this dish for $11 on Sundays, when it is on special.

The restaurant has been advertising these, especially in the last year, as perfect for freezing and eating later. Sometimes you may find specials to get a free one after buying three. Having a freezer stocked with lamprais does not sound like a bad idea, pandemic or not.

You can smartly finish off a meal here with a slice of watalappan ($3.49, below), a firm custard pudding made with coconut milk. A drizzle of palm sugar and crumbled cashew nuts top the dessert.

Tuesdays and Thursdays used to be "Hopper Night" here in Anaheim, so we can only hope that the restaurant brings this special back once things are returned to normal.

📍 1732 S. Euclid Street, Anaheim, Orange County


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