DTLA: Rice Bar Now Open

mushroom tamale

mushroom tamale


Rice Bar in Downtown Los Angeles is now open. The Filipino rice bowl concept from restauranteur Santos Uy (Papilles, Mignon) and Chef Charles Olalia (formerly Patina, mar’sel) opened a few weeks ago.

If you walk by too fast, you might miss the tiny lunch counter of about 7 seats. The concept of bringing heirloom rice bowls to Downtown started when Santos spotted the space. He had met Charles at a crossfit club and the two talked about opening a restaurant together for a couple of years. They even went to look at a space in Long Beach but the distance from DTLA proved daunting. Instead, this lunch-only spot proved perfect.


pancit luglog


I was invited to check out some rice bowls. I like rice but I love noodles more. I was very into the pancit luglog which came with thick rice noodles topped with baby shrimp and hardboiled egg. The shellfish sauce can be spiked with vinegar or hot sauce but I liked it as is.

For vegetarians or Meatless Monday, I’d go for the mushroom tamale. The rice parcel is wrapped up with a large lotus leaf and unfurls like a beautiful green flower revealing savory mushrooms, salted duck egg and rice.

dilis (anchovies)

dilis frito (anchovies)


But most people are coming for the rice bowls. Start with your choice of rice, pick a flavor and it’s finished off with condiments. There are suggestions for each flavor and in this case, go for the Ulikan red rice for the dilis frito (anchovies). I found the red rice to be hearty and filling. The bowl was enhanced with avocado and juicy grape tomatoes. A bit of the spicy vinegar complimented and tied the bowl together.



bistek tagalog


I fell in love with the steak at Chef Charles’ popup, A’postrophe. Here we had it with the Milagrosa Jasmine rice which when mixing with the flavorful sauce.




Also at his popup, I tried the longganisa which is Chef Charles’ uncle’s recipe. At Rice Bar, the sweet and spicy pork sausage pairs best with the garlic fried rice. Some people may be turned off by garlic but I have found Filipino garlic fried rice to be very subtle. Some might actually demand to see more garlic!

This sausage was the overall favorite but I haven’t tried all the bowls yet!

Chef Charles Olalia

Chef Charles Olalia


For dessert, I was looking forward to Chef Charles’ rice krispies treats but he was all out. He said a band of bright-eyed children looked at him and he just melted and gave away all the treats he had been saving for our meal. I couldn’t blame him. Besides, we got iced buko, the wonderful coconut ice pops he’s also gleefully selling.

Next time! I want to try the vanilla lime krispies. Rice Bar also has chocolate, coconut oil and espresso treats. I also plan to head back to try the chicken tinola which sounds a bit like Filipino Hainan chicken since the chicken is simmered with ginger.

Rice Bar is currently open weekdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hopefully they’ll open for lunch on weekends and perhaps evenings soon.

Rice Bar

419 W 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014 

© The Minty 2015