RICE JUNKIES 

RICE JUNKIES

620 SW 9th Ave, 274-2154

Slacker joints can have a certain funky or arrogant charm, but ultimately they have to actually provide food and services to their constituents or even the ethereal or displaced will give up on it. Rice Junkies fails in this respect. Its menu advertises "quick service" in a "unique atmosphere." Both rather overstate the case.

Located on Southwest Park Avenue around the corner from Rich's Cigar Store, Rice Junkies occupies a mouse hole in the side of a building (there's also a shop at 214 SW Stark). Given that the business is really a food cart on steroids, the cramped, triangular space is paradoxically both too big but also too small for its customers, who at peak hours jostle for one of the four precious tables in the place.

But the real chaos seems to occur on the other side of the counter. On one recent visit, the customer ahead of us was accidentally charged almost $100 dollars for his meal; the customer then foolishly accepted the change (we wonder if he is happy paying six percent on that weird transaction). On a final visit we waited for 10 minutes with no one coming out of the back room to serve us, so we left.

Believe it or not, however, on one occasion we actually did get some food out of the place. Rice Junkies serves bento and wraps. The bento menu ranges from $4 dollars to $5.75; wraps go from $3 to $5. The rice bento dishes are vaguely better than the yakisoba noodle selection, which tend to be dry and tasteless. The best of the seven wraps, barely, is the Kung Pao, whose spiciness masks its various faults.

Rice Junkies' one virtue is that it offers unlimited sauces. Hot sauce, peanut sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy, sweet chili, wasabi, and several others are available for redundant pouring. Believe me, you need them on Rice Junkies' mahogany noodles. The joint could go broke just from the amount of sauces (such as peanut sauce) the customers get to use, indeed need to use, to make their meals savory. Rice Junkies is a habit you can easily break.

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