Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Rice Den, Chatswood

Without a doubt, The Rice Den is one of my favourite restaurants. You step into the tiny place and it doesn't feel at all like you're in Chatswood anymore. It's hip and very happening, perhaps somewhere in Newtown or Surry Hills. The vibe is fresh and modern. The food is out of this world, the flavours are bold, punchy and it's very difficult not to return. It incorporates classical South-East Asian flavours with more modern notes, making them come alive and suitable for this hipster day and age.

I'm so happy when my girlfriends ask me to choose the restaurant to go for our catch-up. It's been too long since I've been to The Rice Den and I'm seriously deprived of their flavoursome food. I even know what we're going to have before we're even there. This ensures we can order quickly, food can arrive as soon as possible and we can take our time enjoying each of their creations. 

Tom yum fried rice, $13.00
First up is the tom yum fried rice. For those who do not like lemongrass, stay clear of this one because it's the key component to making the rice taste like Thailand. It makes it so aromatic and flavoursome that it doesn't even bother me when I accidentally eat some. The fresh veg gives it crunch and vibrancy. The chicken pieces and prawns are cooked well. The fried basil leaves are the perfect garnish and textural component with its subtle flavour that makes this not just an ordinary fried rice. 

Steamed cheong fun, $6.00
I am certain that I order the steamed cheong fun every time. It's hard not to! It brings back memories of when I was young. My family and I visited Hong Kong one year and we went to where Mum used to grow up. There would be one food stall on the side of the street that sold freshly steamed cheong fun (rice noodle rolls) cut into bite size, served with sesame, oyster and chilli sauce in a paper bowl lined with baking paper and eaten with two skewers. It costed less to nothing but it was piping hot and glorious! 

This is just as good, with all its sweet sesame and Rice Den sauce! But they add some extra fresh shiitake mushrooms, shiso leaves and fried onions, that give it texture. The cheong fun are unbelievable silky, very hot and comforting. 

Salt and pepper nasu, $13.00
This is a great main for the vegetarians out there, but also the man-eaters. Often veg dishes come out bland and frighten those who want punchy flavours. Salt and pepper nasu (eggplant) scares no one and welcomes you into a world of perfectly seasoned crispy salt, pepper and spiced batter and sweet melt-in-the mouth eggplant. Every mouthful has those dual textures and flavours, making them very addictive. I'll say yes to this over KFC anyway! 

Crispy soft shell crab, $20.00

The first impression I get when the crispy soft shell crab comes out, is that they have been very generous with their portions. Three whole soft shell crabs! They are fried till they are golden and crispy. I am delightfully surprised when I discover there is crab meat embedded within the shells. This is definitely a first! The chilli mayonaise works wonders with the crab. I am so pleased with this dish that it's going to be another one I add on the "must have" list for next time. 
Black sticky rice with vanilla ice-cream, $9.00
Finally dessert time. Even though I'm full to the brink, there is always room for black sticky rice! It's not too sweet and I love the chewy texture. It's also still warm which is a great contrast against the coolness of the ice-cream. The sweetness of it also brings out the flavour of the sticky rice. I'm glad this was shared between the three of us (I initially wanted a whole serving to myself...) because it was just enough to remind me how good it is and leaving me wanting more. I don't want to get sick of it! 

I always compare The Rice Den with other South-East Asian restaurants because their food is consistently amazing and is not afraid to flavour their dishes with various ingredients, as opposed to just using salt. Service is great, friendly and accommodating. It's another great little place that is hidden away from the main streets, to make sure only foodies know where to find it. 

The Rice Den
3/77 Archer St, 

9411 2001

The Rice Den on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I love that you also post the prices for each dish, its VERY helpful. Keep up the great work!!