Luckyrice Los Angeles: A Rocking Asian Food Court, Cocktail Party With Balloons

There was one major difference between last year's inaugural Luckyrice event in Los Angeles and Saturday's sophomore effort: room to breathe. Instead of the cramped confines of the 2012 edition, guests were treated to two full rooms lined with a panoply of pan-Asian dining options and more bars than a college town. It made for a much more pleasant experience, and it goes to show that the right venue is just as important as the right chef line-up. In this case, Culver City's The Bookbindery proved to be more than up to the challenge of handling an influx of Asian food nuts.

Luckyrice is kind of like what I imagine would happen if a club sprung up in the middle of a really awesome food court. Dark lighting, pulsing beats from a DJ and a large array of good-looking eaters (both Asian and non-Asian) wander about sampling food from over 20 different restaurants. LA's top Asian chefs were all represented, from Jet Tila's rich, homey Northern Thai curry noodles to the deceptively complex grilled beef rib lettuce wrap with fermented pineapple presented by The Spice Table's Singapore superstar Bryant Ng. Kris Yenbamroong of Night + Market served up some damn good spicy tuna ceviche on shrimp crackers while ultra cool sushi spot Katsuya rocked the VIP with both Tokyo-style ramen and decadent hand rolls.

While the food spanned the breadth and quality of LA's Asian dining scene (see: 9 Great Dishes In Little Tokyo), the cocktails were just as impressive. Bombay Sapphire East was a major sponsor of the event and that meant you couldn't go more than five feet without being offered a gin cocktail of one sort or another. Not that I'm complaining. They were excellent, especially the strawberry-heavy "Summer Love" punch and the peach/yuzu/elderflower flavor bomb in the "Eastern Legacy." Luckyrice founder Danielle Chang says "It's really more of a cocktail event," and it's true. It just so happens that the snacks being served to soak up the gin come from James Beard Award nominees and Food & Wine Best New Chefs.

With actual room to walk around, great food, amazing drinks and a balloon artist that seemed intent on making everybody balloon jet-packs, 2013's Luckyrice Feast in Los Angeles turned out to be the best food court-club-cocktail party around. If only they could figure out how to make those balloon jet-packs really fly...

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