Premium varieties of imported rice grown in Japan (where land is scarce and expensive) can cost from $30 to $70 for a small bag. Is it that good? Some Chowhounds think it’s worth exploring the subtle tastes of varietal rice, a food often taken for granted as a mere accompaniment to the “real” meal. Like olive oil or salt, lowly rice can provide surprising aesthetic pleasure at the higher end.

If you actually buy and try Japanese rice varieties next to each other, you will detect the nuances, says applehome. “Even having had Japonica rice every single day until I was 17 and left my mom’s house, I never really understood the real *flavor* of rice until I did this.” You don’t have to go nuts with a $70 version, says applehome. You can get a bag of Tamanishiki for about $20. “Cook that next to Tamaki Gold, and the standard Calrose (Nishiki or Botan or whatever), and the differences will amaze you,” says applehome. “The flavor of the Tamanishiki just blooms in your mouth. It’s really the same flavor—rice—but what that is, exactly, becomes just that much more obvious.”

Board Link: Why is some Japanese rice $30-70 for a smallish bag?

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