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You can eat real fried rice in a virtual reality experience at this San Francisco restaurant

Customers eat dinner at Bomb Fried Rice’s grand opening event in San Francisco on June 1, 2023. | Courtesy Shanel Smith

In a city like San Francisco, where a $72 bowl of ultra-luxe fried rice does more than just drop jaws, the traditional Asian comfort food is not to be taken lightly. Enter Bomb Fried Rice, a restaurant that opened on June 1 with a singular focus on the dish.

Founded by a San Francisco-born techie specializing in Blockchain cryptocurrency named RJ Moscardon, Bomb Fried Rice is a pop-up at Joint Venture Kitchen in SoMa showcasing augmented reality, artificial intelligence as well as music from a few rising Filipino hip-hop producers. 

Stay with us for a minute here. In addition to ordering using a traditional paper menu or QR code, soon you’ll be able to select your fried rice with an augmented-reality simulation on your phone that will allow you to visualize the dish in three dimensions. There’s also an interactive photo booth and an immersive scavenger hunt that snakes through the dining room. 

“I thought it was a really cool way to bridge the physical and the digital,” Moscardon said. 

Moscardon’s lifelong love of fried rice escalated into an outright obsession during the pandemic, when he learned 80 different recipes for the dish. His restaurant’s menu includes some of the more extraordinary concoctions he’s fried up, including varieties like oxtail and bone marrow, duck fat and a unique spin on Nigerian jollof rice. 

Apart from Soul Rice in Pacifica, there are few restaurants in California where fried rice is front and center. 

“Fried rice has always been a part of the menu, but it’s never been the star,” Moscardon said. 

The new restaurant in SoMa serves shrimp fried rice and other varieties of the traditional Asian comfort food. | Courtesy Shanel Smith

The restaurant is also a musical incubator of sorts. While living in the Philippines from 2015 to 2020, Moscardon became a talent manager, collaborating with Filipino MCs like DJ Buddah, Lex Luthoor and Yung Bawal—who produced an umami-themed playlist for the restaurant’s grand opening. 

According to Moscardon, these producers have opened for the likes of A$AP Ferg and E-40 during those artists’ tours through the Philippines and DJed parties for NBA stars Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. He plans to spotlight these artists as well as music from each country in Southeast Asia and West Africa through a series of Spotify playlists curated by music journalist Mike Steyels that customers can experience in augmented reality. 

For now, Moscardon operates Bomb Fried Rice as a pop-up, but he told The Standard that he hopes to grow Bomb Fried Rice into a permanent brick-and-mortar restaurant—either in this location or elsewhere. The kitchen is currently open from Thursdays to Saturdays, Moscardon said, so that the space can host tech workshops and other pop-ups. 

Using the analogy of Apple’s iPhone drops, Moscardon said he plans to roll out his augmented reality and AI programming gradually. Within a month, he’ll launch an augmented-reality gallery featuring the multimedia artwork of Filipino director and photographer Justin Villanueva. 

Moscardon has almost as many ideas to incorporate immersive tech into his restaurant as he has recipes for fried rice. He said he hopes to bring Apple glasses into his restaurant—whenever the long-awaited product finally launches—and host augmented-reality livestreams and AI food workshops where diners collaborate on a recipe using an AI prompt. 

“We’re throwing tech spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks,” he said, laughing. 

Bomb Fried Rice