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  • - 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.

  • - Ooh, this is good.