Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles - Hey, it's Andrew, Steven and Adam. Before we get started, this episode was filmed at the beginning of the year before we started social distancing, due to COVID-19. - Yes, we are currently still social distancing, but we wanna share these great restaurants with you. Even the dining out is not the same as it usually is right now. - Today, we're doing rice. ♪ Is it worth it ♪ ♪ Make it worth it ♪ ♪ Make it worth it ♪ ♪ Worth it ♪ ♪ Worth it ♪ - Potentially the most anticipated episode of Worth It ever. - By who? - By me. - Okay. - By me. By yours truly, rice is my favorite carb and potentially my favorite dish. - And before we get started on today's adventure, special thank you to Toyota, who hooked us up with this Highlander to be the new Worth-It-Mobile this season. - Today at Worth It, we're gonna be trying three rice dishes at three drastically different price points to find out which one is the most worth it and it's price. - I'm thinking about rice. We've eaten it so many times on this show. It's an ingredient. It's a dish. It can take so many forms. Say rice, and then I'll say a thing. - Rice. - Noodle. - Rice. - Porridge. - Rice. - Pudding. - Rice. - Cake. Wait, reverse it now. Sticky. - Rice. - Fried. - Rice. - Crispy. - Rice. - Nice. - Rice. - We're eating it. - Rice. Okay, so where are we going first? - We're on our way to Azuma Restaurant. We're gonna see owner, Hideki and general manager, Hitoshi. - I'm very excited because this restaurant was actually referred to us by our good friend, Sean Miura. He will be joining us for the tasting. - He said they make the most fantastic Onigiri. (bright upbeat music) Here we are at Azuma Restaurant. - With our good friend, Sean Miura. - What's up? - How did it feel recommending a restaurant to Worth It? - It's pretty stressful. Cause you don't know if it's going to be good enough. And then also you don't want people to show up and make it harder to get into. - Oh, I see. - You're walking in the door and there's a really great energy and vibe to it. It's kind of like a cheers feeling. - Can you tell us a little bit of the background of Azuma? - We purchased this restaurant 2002. It was owned by a Japanese national. Built by the Okamoto family, in the early 50s. - And why has it been important for you guys to maintain this restaurant as an Izakaya? - We liked it for one. Izakaya style is the analogist to the Spanish tapas, lots of little things. But in addition to that, we have the regular menu items. - Asparagus beef is very important out here. Sashimi salad. - And what makes a really good Onigiri? - Rice is very important. We are using Hickory rice. Simple but tastes really good. - It's best to start with like a plain Onigiri, it's just going to be this triangle. That's a little bit thick. That's like just the right firmness. Have maybe a little bit of salt and the piece of seaweed. But otherwise it's just gonna be this nice, subtle flavor because it's just straight up rice. - [Steven] Whoa! This a giant. - So this is their most standard version. No filling, it's not grilled rice, salt, seaweed. It does have a satisfying haft. - It has the weight of a perfectly shaped snowball. Like I wanna throw this at somebody. - Yeah. - Cheers. - Oh, The rice is naturally sweet. - Where are you getting sweet? - Are you tasting salt? - I'm tasting salt. - I'm I confused? Wait, Adam, please confirm for me. Maybe I'm crazy. - I got too much seaweed. It just tastes like seaweed. (all laughing) - Amazing how satisfying it is. Because it's just, it's so few elements. - It's really a satisfying. - Wait, eat that now. - So this is takuan, It's like a pickled daikon. - Love that. That's sweet. - I think we're gonna find out in this episode that my taste buds are broken. - So those are the base I wanna give you. Yaki Onigiri, Yaki comes from the verb Yaku, which means like to grill. It's just how you get like takoyaki. It's how you get okonomiyaki. It's how you get soba. - [Steven] Fun fact. - So what they're gonna do is they're gonna brush it with the soy sauce based sort of mixture. Then they're gonna be grilling it. Charred rice is one of my favorite flavors in the world. You could have salmon. Salmon's really popular one. That's my personal favorite. Umeboshi is like a pickled plum. It contrasts nicely with the rice flavor. - Steven, which one do you want? - I saw the fish egg on the menu. We're talking about contrast. Look at that crust. - And then just the smell you should be getting this nice toasty. - Yeah. - Cheers. - It never gets old. - Wow, that's almost like a fried rice, rice ball. I mean, I guess it is. - If you'll notice in one bite, you're getting this crispy outside, which is like totally charged to perfection. And then inside is still this really nice rice that's taken in the flavor of the soy sauce. - I just got to the fish egg part. Yeah, very fishy. I get it though. This is actually amazing. - It does go with the toasted flavor of the rice very well. It's so good. Considering it is mostly just rice. - Hey, not just rice, like rice is rice. You're just Andrew. - I'm not getting any of this. (all laughing) - No, I got you. I know what you mean. - This is good. - Thank you so much to Sean for guiding us through our Azuma dining experience. I hope to go there again with him. - I know we're about to eat two more amazing rice dishes. I have a feeling today. They're all my Worth It winner. You just literally cannot go wrong with rice. - Steven, it's time for a little rice fact. - Rice fact. - And in fact, this is going to be a pop quiz rice fact. How many cultivated varieties of rice are there in the world? - Oh no. - Take a guess. - This one's hard. I'm gonna say 12,534. - 12,000? The answer is 40,000. Yeah. - You know what? I'll take that. It's like I'm living in Pokemon Red. I've only explored the 150 kinds of rice. My rice index is, it's expanding. - Well to expand our knowledge of distinct and delicious rice types. Our next restaurant is going to feature a very special type of rice. We're now on our way to Lukshon where we're going to see chef Sang Yoon and try his heirloom black rice. - Very nice. - Black rice. (upbeat music) - Lukshon was my first traditional restaurant. I came from a world of very high end, French fine dining. Lukshon is sort of my rendition of how I perceive Southeast Asia. The place is full of mystery and incredible history. And this is where I interpret Southeast Asia through a very modern lens. My rendition of beef and broccoli complete change a dish. And we do some things that are very, very traditional. But there's a lot of things that we use. There are tricks. We use a lot of modern cooking technique that was not available and it's not traditional. We make something called puffed beef tendon. And it will look like from afar, pork grind, but we call it the bovine cousin to the chicharrone. So I think authentic, but not traditional. You get a taste of something that is so ancient and it's still incredibly relevant. The cuisine would not be possible with only old or only new. They have to harmonize. - So tell us a little bit about this black heirloom rice dish. - So the black rice dishes is also another mysterious ingredient that people used to call it, forbidden rice. And I was like, "Why is it forbidden?" The story is that it was only once available to royalty. And if you were just a normal person, you weren't allowed to have it. Although it is not technically forbidden, it isn't incredibly widely available even in China. So I wanted to make a rice dish. It was about the rice itself. There's a small amount of Cantonese sweet sausage called Lap Cheong. The rice is the star of the show and not simply a side. I think that's a complete different perspective on rice. The thing about black rice is it's very forgiving and that it can take on a lot of the heat from the wok. The black rice actually just gets smokier. So you get almost that light scorch, that waft of smoke. I've actually never seen black rice cooked this way. - I'm willing to bet this is gonna be a completely new experience. Cheers Steven. (upbeat music) - It's a nice chewy grain rice - What? Yes, it's chewy. Wow, I thought I was an expert on rice. I don't know. - You've been stumped by rice. - How do you describe that texture? Is it springy, bouncy? - Like seedy almost. I wanna buy this rice. I'm gonna find out where they get this. - They have a guy. - I want that guy. Get me that guy. I'm gonna have some egg with it now. - Now this is what I like to see. Now that is the familiar taste I know and love. - But then earthy, nutty, herbaceous, other rice flavor. - I noticed every single grain of rice when I eat it. Each grain holds up by itself. - All of the other stuff in this dish stay very separate until you get a bite from them. You're eating it.