Rice is among the world's most popular foods.

Transcending nationalities and culinary genres, served savory or sweet, fried or steamed, it is also a remarkably versitle ingredient. Here at AU, we have no fewer than ten on-campus eateries offering rice in various, intriguing forms.

Read on to explore the best rice dishes for students to enjoy--and which ones didn't quite blow us away. 

This article ranks the top five.

Outtakes: What Didn't Make the Cut

In the making of this list, some rice bowls we tried left us wanting more. Specifically, the various rice-based offerings at Frëshens leave room for improvement.

Frëshens' Thai Chicken bowl comes adorned with black sesame seeds and a crunchy salad mix. The dressing, however, leaves something to be desired. Its flavor is peppery in the extreme with hardly a hint of sweetness. It leaves the pallet overwhelmed with spice, void of any counterpoint ingredients for relief. A sprinkling of lime juice or diced mango would go a long way. In all, this dish excels in character but lacks depth of flavor.

Hungry students on East Campus won’t be impressed by the Buffalo rice bowl either—that is, unless they enjoy being hit in the face with a bottle of ranch dressing. The Meatless Mexican, Power Protein, and Baja Queso bowls all suffer the same over-dressed fate. Seeing as this lunch counter offers a large selection of eight rice bowls, it’s a shame none of them pass the bar of mediocrity.

5) Taarka at TDR

Elliott Parrish

Taarka (sometimes spelled tadka) masala is an Indian seasoning consisting of turmeric, ginger, cumin, and a generous pinch of black pepper. In this case, the spices are mixed into a creamy tomato sauce and tossed with steamed eggplant over a bed of buttery white rice.

The dish overall is pleasantly spicy and rich with a hint of garlic. While the dining hall does not always have it on the menu, taarka makes for a zippy and exciting dinner.

4) Wok Fried Rice at Paper Lantern

Elliott Parrish

Soy sauce, white vinegar, and canola oil add savory flavor to long grain rice. I especially like the minced carrots, bell peppers, and ginger that Paper Lantern throws into the mix.

The fried rice here is technically a side, so meal swipe users can take their pick of beef, chicken, or tofu alongside it. Fans of Panda Express will appreciate this warm and hearty dish.

3) Brown Rice Bowl at Halal Shack

Elliott Parrish

Brown rice is exceptionally rich in nutrients, offering myriad vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It's a marvelous treat when served alongside hummus, tomatoes, falafel, and shredded parsley salad.

Don't be daunted by the long lines at Halal Shack; they usually move fast, and the food is well worth the wait.

2) Tuna Poke Bowl at Hisso Sushi

Elliott Parrish

It was a triumphant winter’s day when Hisso Sushi brought made-from-scratch poke bowls back to Kirwin Hall. The previous semester, only dry, pre-packaged poke was shipped into the building, paling in comparison to what is offered now.

The sashimi here is impeccably fresh, piled atop steamed white rice. The seaweed salad is addictively tangy, balanced out with mellow, sliced radishes. I also recommend the tempura crunch topping, best seasoned with fruity spring roll sauce. For Kirwin’s Public Affairs students feeling hangry about their backlogs of homework, this poke bowl is a superb remedy.

1) Burrito Bowl at TDR

Elliott Parrish

A new set of pots and pans simmered on the countertop, each containing a delicious-looking food I didn’t recognize. “What’s all this?” I asked the chef curiously. It was TDR’s Burrito Bowl concept, he explained. Left unsaid: this is the best rice dish to be found anywhere on campus.

Cilantro lime rice is steamed and topped with the diner’s choice of roasted, marinated chicken or crumbled tofu. The latter is tossed with garlic, chili powder and paprika, making for a surprisingly salty—but not overwhelming—hit of spice. Pico de Gallo and roasted, herby peppers add an acidic element of freshness. Spicy black beans, pickled onions, and jalapeños add still more southwestern heat. All this is complemented by a creamy cilantro dressing, bringing together a perfectly delightful dish. If you are craving some rice in-between classes at American University, TDR’s Burrito Bowl is sure to make your day.