After another zany night of Improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade East Village Theatre, I found myself stumbling through the Lower East Side on my winding trek home with a ravenous appetite. The area has some food offerings into the wee hours of the night, but cheap pizza or tacos or bar snacks just don’t put a smile on my face these days. Luckily, I came across Zing’s Awesome Rice on Ludlow Street, and after enjoying every visit, I can definitely recommend this specialty “seared rice” eatery!
The owner, Zing Bai left her hectic job as an attorney to pursue a more flavorful dream. Her seared rice isn’t only an original twist on classic Chinese fried rice, it is also a more health-conscious option!
Rice is such a ubiquitous food staple, yet before Zing’s Awesome Rice, I had yet to see much attention or care paid to it. Zing painstakingly tested over 20 different rice varieties before settling on sushi white rice (you can really tell in the texture), brown rice, and purple rice.
Not stopping there, she also claims to marinate and season each grain of rice like a steakhouse does with their steaks. By searing the rice as opposed to frying it, Zing avoids burning the rice or making it too greasy. The result is rice that has a nice crunchy texture on the outside that still maintains some nutritional value as its core.
Continuing to stay on the healthy side, Zing also makes sure each seared rice dish comes in a 1:1:2 of rice to meat to veggie to ensure balanced nutrition, and to limit calories to roughly 600 per plate. She also only sears her rice in olive oil for its heart-healthy characteristics. Lastly, she never salts any of the ingredients she uses, choosing to rely on the natural flavors of spices and meats.
I’ve tasted the Chicken Seared Rice, the Sausage Seared Rice, and the Surprise Seared Rice, which turned out to be a very nice fish. Of these, the Chicken and Fish stood out to me the most. The ingredients were just so light and fresh. It was just as filling and tasty as any fried rice, but it didn’t leave me feeling dehydrated and bloated. The chicken was especially flavorful. Zing marinates it the night before in a little bit of sugar and vinegar, resulting in juicy boneless bites with subtle notes of sweet and savory that mingle quite nicely together.
Lastly, the shop has true New York City hours, staying open on Sundays-Thursdays until 3 AM and Friday and Saturday until 5 AM. “I have friends who get out of work no earlier than 12 AM,” Zing says, “New York is a night-owl city, so I cater to that side of it!” I, for one, cannot even begin to express my happiness at knowing that I can get this delicious rice at almost all hours of the night.
Whether I’m performing comedy, studying late for an exam (ha, I don’t really do that, but you understand my point), or just famished after a night on the town, I’m happy to add Zing’s Awesome Rice to my list of favorite places. Zing’s Awesome Rice IS Awesome–—Sear-iously!
Zing’s Awesome Rice
Address: 122 Ludlow St, between Delancey & Rivington
Phone Number: (347) 857-7668