Image: Fieldtrip

You might not think that a restaurant whose main culinary focus was rice would turn many heads. But Fieldtrip, a fast casual restaurant in Harlem, is proof positive of how wrong that assumption is. With two new locations already open for business in Rockefeller Center and Long Island City and six to eight more on the way, chef and founder JJ Johnson’s mantra — “rice is culture” — seems to have caught on big-time.

The key to Fieldtrip’s success resides in part in the diversity of the rices (note the plural) Johnson curates for his creations. Parboiled enriched bleached rice is strenuously avoided in favor of new crop rices, such as Carolina Gold, Texas brown rice, Chinese black rice, and Laotian sticky rice.

Then there are the rice bowls themselves. Carolina Gold is selected as the base for the vegetable fried rice that accompanies the restaurant’s hand-battered fried chicken breast. Texas brown rice and chipotle black beans are partnered with the house’s slow-cooked and pulled brisket.

Another aspect of Fieldtrip that deserves mention is its partnership with Rethink Food, a non-profit whose mission is to provide restaurant food that would otherwise be wasted to hungry New Yorkers. As a partner, Fieldtrip has sent out over 45,000 meals.

Fieldtrip, 109 Malcolm X Boulevard, 917-639-3919.

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