Its been nearly a year since we last reviewed The Rice Den. I’ve been back several times this year with other friends and it hasn’t changed much, but when we heard that their specials menu recently got a revamp, we had to return as a team to try some new dishes!
Just to refresh your memory about this place – The Rice Den is near the Victoria Ave intersection near Chatswood Chase shopping centre. It features a range of Asian flavours including Chinese, Japanese and Thai and infuses this with modern Australian cuisine. Tonight we get the opportunity to speak to the owner Roy, who has been in the food industry for about 10 years now. He tells us his story about how The Rice Den has managed to succeed in the busy Chatswood food scene, how he has incorporated his experiences with Asian cuisine into the menu and his foray into social media by interacting with his customers. For a restaurant in Chatswood, its good to know that he’s embracing the digital age to build customer engagement and loyalty, something that a lot of Asian restaurants are lagging behind in.
Chilli Jam Roasted Duck Wok Tossed
Tonight we choose all our dishes off the specials menu (except the rice dish). There are faint chalk smudges underneath the writing suggesting that this menu changes periodically. To start us off, we get the chilli jam duck. This consists of big pieces of duck breast with chilli jam sauce and hints of basil. I find there are moments when this is quite spicy, especially if you eat the chilli seeds, so watch out if you can’t handle spiciness!
“Lamb you Long time” with Black Pepper Sauce & Seasonal Veges
Next up is the lamb dish called “Lamb you Long time”, which has a humorous name thanks to a dish-naming competition for The Rice Den’s Facebook fans. Usually lamb cutlets have big chunks of fat attached to them but this dish doesn’t have too much, leaving me with big meaty fillets. The lamb is also well cooked with a black pepper sauce which matches the meat very well.
Spiders Nest (soft shell crab with tamarind, seasonal veges & egg noodles)
The Spiders Nest comes next which consists of a bed of crunchy noodles mixed with assorted vegetables and fried soft shell crab, drizzled with a sweet tamarind sauce. The crispy noodles are delicious with the sauce which is a mix of sweet and spicy flavours. Scattered within the vegetables are also juicy lychee and pineapple pieces which are very refreshing. The soft shell crab is also very meaty and not too oily – a delicious dish.
Garlic & Shallot (Jasmine rice infused with fried fresh garlic and shallots)
Our last savoury dish is a garlic and shallot fried rice. This is a simple stir fried rice which is surprisingly light and fluffy. There are good hints of garlic flavours, very similar to the garlic rice at The Tall Lemongrass but just without the overload of oil. The crispy fried onions scattered throughout the rice also adds a crunchy textural element.
Black n’ White Sticky Rice with Vanilla Ice Cream
And now to our favourite time of the meal – dessert! We opt for the sticky rice which is served with ice cream and whipped cream on top along with ‘The Rice Den’ written on the side in caramel sauce. At first glance, it looks disturbingly like a discoloured burger pattie given the shape. Thankfully it tastes nothing like that; the sticky rice is hot which goes very well with the cold ice cream. The caramel sauce also adds some extra sweetness, although I don’t think it needs any. Who knew that ice cream and rice could work!
Just like every other time I’ve been here, tonight I am very satisfied by my meal. The Rice Den is one of the few restaurants who can do great Asian fusion food with interesting combinations that taste fantastic. And a plus is that it is affordable too! If you’re looking for a change from the typical Chinese fare that clutters Chatswood (but still want Asian food), The Rice Den is a good way to start.
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All mains were in the $15 – $25 price range. Dessert was $10 – $15
Excuse Me Waiter dined as guests of The Rice Den
The Rice Den
3/77 Archer Street, Chatswood
(02) 9411 2001