Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rice Queen, Fitzroy by Bureaucrat

For many years, I have wanted to dine at Rice Queen.  I first noticed RQ when it opened up under the Panama Dining Room in Fitzroy.  I knew nothing about it, except that I liked the name.

Skip forward many years, we made reservations at RQ, which now is located on Brunswick Street.

Outside, is sort of nondescript.  However, inside, it's a glorious riot of colours.  It's an eclectic mix of Asian styles, done up in a camp-ish sort of way.  Lots of faux flowers, the waitresses are decked out in cheong san, and there's a lot of warm mood lighting.

Our waitress was exemplary - she very politely and kindly informed us that we should order soon, as there is a time limit on our table (we arrived late and we were too engrossed in a gab fest to realise that we hadn't ordered).  It was a wonderful example where delivering an awkward message with tact, humour and diplomacy makes a world of difference for the dining experience.

After a bit of deliberation, we ordered the four mains to share.  The menu is a mix of Asian cuisines with slight twist to them.  Mostly the dishes are Korean, Thai, Japanese, Singaporean and Malaysian-based.

First up, the papaya salad w snake beans, cherry toms, peanuts, crispy shallots w a lime and soy dressing.  This was perhaps the least impressive dish of the night. I don't know much about papaya salad and I wasn't really sure whether I could taste the green papaya. The dressing was quite bland.  Overall, it just tasted like a regular salad.

The next few dishes came out quickly.  The Korean taco - slow roasted Korean style pork served w rice, kim chi, butter lettuce and two sauces. This was quite fun. The pork was very tender and had a mild spiciness to it.  I would say this was more like a Korean san choy bao, as opposed a taco.

Next was probably everyone's favourite dish of the night - KFC (aka Korean Fried Chicken). Lovely, juicy and tender fried chicken ribs.  The flavour is kinda like salt and pepper squid, but with a more depth to it.  Despite the presence of the chillies, this was quite mild. I could easily finish a whole plate of this!

Last but not least was the Assam seafood curry w prawns, rockling, squid in an okra and tamarind soup base, which comes served with a bowl of rice.  This was a lovely, fresh curry.  I loved the tart flavour from the fresh tomatoes and tamarind. There was a reasonable amount of fresh (not frozen) seafood, but I would have preferred more of it.  The okra was cooked perfectly, as it was nice and crunchy and not at all slimy. This would be my second favourite dish.

As we wanted dessert (and we spent too much time gas-bagging at the start), our waitress suggested that she move us over to the bar area for dessert.  We happily complied.  So situated in a our new table behind the resident DJ, we could see that RQ is definitely popular place to dine.  The place was packed with lots of glammed up hipsters.

There's only three choices for dessert, all of which contain coconut.  I know Asian cuisine aren't known for desserts, but I would have thought they could offer other desserts that didn't include coconut.  We chose two of the desserts to share.

The first was the pandan sago w coconut sorbet w treacle and "crowned" in lime syrup. I preferred this dessert, as I like almost anything with sago.  The sago had a gentle twang of pandan flavour. The treacle was quite deep in caramelly flavour and it wasn't in-your-face sweet, while the lime syrup help cut through the richness.

The second was the coconut lime cheese cake w mango.  I think none of us expected the cheesecake to look like this... it looks like a pastry dish, like a quiche.  However, the cheesecake was rich in texture without being too claggy.  The roasted coconut and mango gave an otherwise 'meh' cheesecake some oomph to the flavour and texture.

Food – 7.5
Ambience – 9
Service – 9
Price – 7

The food is pretty good and it's nice that RQ does it with a twist. The service is, as I mentioned, exemplary   While clearing our table, our waitress accidently dropped a fork into my cider.  She apologised profusely and got me a complementary glass of new cider.

Inside, it's a great vibe, especially at night. It's busy but the staff are prompt.  It's buzzing without being deafening and or difficult to hold a conversation. Definitely a place to be seen but without being pretentious about it.  It's the sort of place where, if you were walking outside, you'd think "I want to go inside and see what's happening!".

Rice Queen
389 Brunswick St
Fitzroy 3065
Telephone: 9419 6624

Rice Queen Oriental Diner and Bar on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

MoMo and Coco Dessert Correspondents said...

Interesting sounding desserts, might need to pop by, I think! :)

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