If you happen to be in the Arts District of downtown L.A., you might be tempted to try The Chairman, an Asian fusion restaurant specializing in bao (steamed buns filled with meat). And if you’re lactose-intolerant, you might get excited about their dairy-free rice pudding.
First off, the bao is highly overrated. Almost every meat filling on the menu is too sweet, dry and bland. But the dessert was the biggest disappointment because it’s hard to find dairy-free rice pudding and this one looked so delicious. I mean, look at this beauty!
It’s made with coconut milk instead of dairy. I’ve eaten and made quite a few desserts that contain coconut milk, and many are great — for instance, the hot chocolate I made last Christmas that converted even my coconut-milk-hating husband.
But what I learned from The Chairman’s rice pudding is that dairy-free desserts must have a strong flavor (like chocolate) to mask the flavor of the coconut milk. This pudding tastes overwhelmingly of coconut. Maybe some people enjoy that. I’m not a fan. I want my rice pudding to taste like vanilla and cinnamon.
I have since tried making my own rice pudding using almond milk, with better results. However, almond milk isn’t as thick as dairy or coconut milk, so the pudding comes out on the thin side. And besides, most of us are too busy to make our own rice pudding; if we’re taking the time to cook, we’re making an actual meal.
So it would be nice to find an off-the-shelf dairy-free rice pudding that tastes as good as Kozy Shack. Unfortunately, you won’t find it at The Chairman.
THE CHAIRMAN, 1200 East 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90013