91. Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky
Dave Lieberman

91. Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky

This week, it's my turn for our 100 Favorite Dishes. Find out what you're missing with this list of 100 memorable dishes at local restaurants. We'll count down every weekday, with the top dishes appearing right before our annual Best Of Issue comes out. Enjoy!

Baked rice in a rocket-hot pot is one of the hidden secrets of Asian cuisine. Koreans cook it in a dol sot; Southeast Asians cook it in a clay pot, and at Luc Dinh Ky, a pair of Vietnamese restaurants near each other on Little Saigon's Bolsa Avenue, they come out in a black iron pot.

The rice, which is glutinous to start with, forms a chewy shell on top, punctuated by slightly burned bits that resemble the Persian tadig. The smoky flavor permeates the entire dish and mixes with the rice's original fragrance for an unbeatable combination. Contrary to just about every etiquette book out there, you are supposed to use the supplied (and very popular) spicy soy sauce to moisten and salt the rice.

It doesn't really matter which main course you get with your baked rice, though the sauce on the much-vaunted salmon gets cloying and annoying after a few bites. Go for a beef or chicken-based entrée instead. Whatever you do, don't miss their nước mắt, an herbal, sweet "health" drink that takes a couple of sips to get used to and then worms its way into your palate in a most ingratiating way. The drink comes free with a meal and the waitstaff will refill it for you if you ask.

Luc Dinh Ky, 9812 Bolsa Ave. #100, Westminster; (714) 839-6813.
Luc Dinh Ky 2, 9600 Bolsa Ave., Westminster; (714) 775-8811.

The rest of the list:

#100. Jerk Carnitas Torta at The Crosby
#99. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard
#98. Pork Chop Anything at Nice Time Deli
#97. Flying Saucer at Alberto's
#96. Frozen Custard at Marc Burger's in Macy's Signature Kitchen
#95. Collard Greens at Johnny Reb's
#94. Strawberry Shortcake from Job's Daughters
#93. Cuban Sandwich at DeSimone's Deli
#92. Lamb with Preserved Cabbage at Mas Islamic Chinese


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