God, I love rice pudding. There's an easy rice pudding recipe I'll post at some point in the near future that I make regularly, and when I don't feel like making that I nuke leftover rice from Chinese takeout and pour milk and sugar over it, a concoction I call Poor Man's Rice Pudding. It's gross to some most, but I don't care; I'll eat anything with rice, sugar and milk in it regardless of how long it's been sitting in the fridge or even out on the counter for several days overnight. I'm disgusting. Kiss me.
For those who don't want to make their own pudding or consume vast amounts of mushy leftover rice with skim milk and spoonfuls of sugar on top, there's this place in New York City's Nolita neighborhood that I obsessed over when it first opened several years ago called Rice To Riches. They only sell rice pudding to teenaged Asian girls, or so it seems because those are the only customers feverishly snapping photos of the futuristic interior whenever I visit, which is rare these days. I had almost completely forgotten about this rice pudding mecca until the other day when I happened to take a slightly different route to Chinatown and walked right by it.
Despite its polished chain-store look, this is the only one in existence and I have absolutely no idea how they survive. Honestly, I was just as happy to have bumped into this delicious old friend as I was shocked to see them still open. Truth-be-told, it's not entirely surprising they're still kicking: Did you know that Rice To Riches started as a front for the mob to conduct other, non-rice pudding related biz? Or so the rumor goes...check out this Rice To Riches mobster Google search. Good times. And who knew mobsters loved rice pudding this much? Have you tried the horse head flavor?
The thing I love most about Rice To Riches other than the pudding itself is the design of the store - it's rather kitschy and done up to look like a spaceship. It must have cost quite a bit of blood money to design this shop from scratch.
The other thing I love about Rice To Riches are the cool reusable containers they serve the pudding in - I've collected a healthy number of them over the years, and I'm pleased to see that they are now selling the spoons in packs at the register. Pictured above is the yellow snow flavor, in honor of the shitty winter we've been having here in New York City. Actually, no, it's just a crappy iPhone photo of their fabulous butterscotch rice pudding - truly delicious and I gobbled down every last morsel of it.
If you're on Spring Street and wanting to visit Rice To Riches, which I highly recommend you do, there are dozens of flavors to choose from - it's basically an old-school ice cream joint that instead sells rice pudding in a multitude of flavors all made from scratch. Favorites include rocky road, honey graham and chocolate hazelnut, but they rotate continually and you never know what's going to be on tap, so don't be shy about asking for samples. One tip on the container size: If you're ordering the small, you can only choose one flavor (Kind of annoying, mobsters - WHY?!), but all other sizes you can mix and match scoops of anything you'd like.
Rice To Riches
37 Spring St (between Mott St & Mulberry St)
New York, NY 10012
Hours: Monday - Thursday & Sunday 11AM - 11PM; Friday & Saturday 11AM - 1AM