Event Review: LUCKYRICE™ New York Feast

Disclaimer: I am writing this event review in exchange for one VIP entry ticket.

On September 22nd, the 36th floor Mandarin Ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental New York (entrance on West 60th between Broadway and Columbus Ave.) near Columbus Circle hosted the 8th annual Lucky Rice New York Feast. The event highlighted dishes from throughout the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, with a couple of Indian-inspired samples added to the mix.  Lest we forget that Asia also includes Yemen, Azerbaijan, and Vladivostok, but that’s another story.

Whereas the VIP ticket would get you in an hour early (VIP entry started at 7pm), the Lucky Rice website’s claim that it also innately means “half-capacity” is ludicrous, seeing as the ballroom was already at Shinjuku station rush hour levels of crowding by 7:30pm.

In other words…

Overlooking Columbus Circle

The city views were great, but…

The breathing room, not so much.

Still, I believe that in general, the food offerings at the Lucky Rice New York Feast were better than other events, if often a bit salty.

I noticed that there was a slightly hidden room located opposite to the main ballroom/entrance.  Fortunately, at the time it was quite empty – not to mention, it coincidentally had what I believed to be the best sample of the night:

The Anjou pear cake with yogurt and dark chocolate.  Simple and not too sweet, I regret not returning for seconds at the end of the show.

You may also begin to notice the omnipresence of the color red.  In China, the color represents good luck, prosperity, and happiness.  That it can also mean “stop” has not caught on yet in that country…

Fortune cookies, possibly created in Japan, or by a Japanese-American in California.  Naturally, they – the fortune cookies, that is – made an appearance.

What?  Mexico is in Asia now?  Ah, well, the panna cotta was fine, but the grasshopper was very salty.

This plate was a bit too sweet for my liking, but the variety of colors reminded me of Balinese Hindu offerings.

In this dish, the bánh tráng mè (sesame rice crackers) provided a nice texture, but there was a distinct lack of numbing spiciness (from the Sichuan peppercorn) that took away from it.

Though it was a tad salty, this was probably one of the better options of the New York Feast. I could easily taste each of the ingredients, but throwing in the endive for the crunchy texture and bitterness was unusual, for something Thai-inspired.

The eel taco sounds fun, but I couldn’t help but think that adding in the tare (Japanese eel sauce) would have worked best.

Oh, as for the photo, this is the result of taking a photo using another person’s flash.

The idea sounds delicious, but again, it was awfully salty.  Lemon would have helped out.

Simple seems to have worked best that night, as this was my favorite savory – ok, umami – selection at the Lucky Rice New York Feast.  I should have parked myself here for the night, and purchased a fishing rod for…

the Kimbap Lab.

In South Korea, you can find these filling and relatively healthy kimbap (rice rolled up with various ingredients in seaweed) for less than two bucks, and with lots of types of seafood and proteins to fill them.  The Kimbap Lab is the first Korean vendor located in any Whole Foods, and they can be found in the Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY) location.  Here’s to hoping that they make it to a NYC-area airport soon.

Hoping to attend a Lucky Feast?  They happen annually throughout North America.

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