The Rice Den 2015

Rebecca Varidel
12th Jul 2015

"Clean, fresh and honest eats inspired by southern Chinese comfort food" is a long journey from boarding school food. Yet, that is where these two friends and owners of The Rice Den met, in boarding school at St. Josephs College. Now fifteen years or so on, with the move of The Rice Den to a new corner restaurant in St. Leonards, their Cantonese food journey continues, a little bit fusion, a lot traditional, a little bit feast, a lot of taste.

The Rice Den Banquet Menu ($40 per person) has Assorted house made pickles to start the ten courses. Then The Rice Den rolls out: Hand made cheong fun, sesame, hoisin sauce; Chicken, prawn and shiitake dim sum; Crispy lamb spring roll, sour plum sauce; Lightly fried calamari, with Chinese spicy salt, pickled ginger mayonnaise; Steamed Cone Bay barramundi fillet with ginger, shallot and soy sauce; Roast duck breast with savoy cabbage, chilli and leek plum sauce; Slow braised Chu-Hou beef cheek, kohlrabi, baby carrot, corn; Yangzhou style pork and prawn fried rice. The banquet is a marvellous journey through southern Chinese cuisine. And, highly recommended.

Like many modern menus, The Rice Den has moved its plates into the divisions of House made small eats, Bigger eats, Vegetarian to share, Rice and noodles, and Desserts.

When choosing from the regular menu, the essential dishes are: the steamed rice noodles, Hong Kong Cheong Fun, which were just terrific, soft yet chewy, textural yet light, a real joy; Drunken Queensland king prawns, chilli and Sichuan pepper; Scallop and praw sui mai; wonderful wonderful moist and tender and full of flavour Stir fry roast duck san choi bao; and that's just from the small eats...

The pick of the recommendations from the bigger eats is the best Lightly fried calamari, Chinese spicy salt, pickled ginger mayonnaise, which is enough to make any diner glad that they came to The Rice Den. It is a superb example of fried calamari and will leave you wanting to come back for more. Canton style barbeque pork neck, molasses and honey glaze, is best of class. And speaking of top of the class, we have the same to say about the fried rice. There are two types of fried rice on offer, The Rice Den fried rice with Chinese sausages, shiitake mushrooms or Yanshou style fried rice, pork, prawn. Both are $16 a platter. Don't forget to finish your savoury with slow braise, Chu-Hou beef cheek which is utterly mouth-watering.

Then when it comes to something sweet to finish, The Rice Den offers two desserts: a bread and butter pudding like French toast, dulce de leche, peanut crumble, marscarpone with matcha green tea; or a wobbly Ovaltine panna cotta (each are $14).

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30 - 32 Chandos Street
St. Leonards
+61 2 9411 2001

Tue – Thu 11.30am – 2.30pm; 5.30pm – 9.30pm

Fri 11.30am – 3pm; 5.30pm – 10.30pm

Sat 5.30pm – 10.30pm

Sun 11.30am – 3pm; 5pm – 9pm