Tempura quail egg skewers (6 eggs) – $8
Those that know me will know that I love food on a stick. Even more when it’s been deep fried. And the deep fried quail eggs from The Rice Den are no exception. The eggs are soft and have a slightly runny yolk, and are encased by a crisp tempura batter and drizzled with a sticky teriyaki sauce.
Sesame prawn toast soldiers (3 pcs) – $6
The Rice Den is the newest addition to Chatswood’s burgeoning dining scene. It’s a small restaurant with Asian comic strip images adorning the walls, and a combination of two-person tables, large wooden tables for shared seating and bar style seats. The food is a mish mash of Asian cuisines rolled into the one restaurant and given a modern twist. The sesame prawn toast soldiers are a good example of this, with the Chinese prawn toast, Japanese wasabi mayo dipping sauce and the overall presentation of the dish being reminiscent of the Western boiled egg and soldiers.
School prawn stack – $12
One of my favourite dishes of the night is the crunchy school prawn stack served with fresh lime and aioli. These bite sized nubbins of deep fried goodness are completely addictive and have me considering getting another bowl just because the first one was demolished so quickly! But I resist since we still have plenty of food to come.
Steamed cheong fun – $6
Now for something not deep fried but just as tasty – the steamed cheong fun. These are a little different to the ones you get on your yum cha trolley in that they don’t have any filling inside the rice noodle. Instead, the rice noodles are rolled up and smothered with a teriyaki-style sauce and a nutty sesame sauce. These are topped with shiitake mushrooms, shiso leaves, fried onions and a smattering of toasted sesame seeds.
Grilled honey black pepper Angus steak – $20
The honey black pepper steak arrives pre-sliced which makes for easy sharing. The meat is still nice and pink on the inside but I find the steak a little too chewy for my liking.
Crispy soft shell crab – $16
When I see soft shell crab on the menu I almost always order it. The serving here is generous with three crispy fried crabs drizzled with a chilli mayonnaise and sweet soy sauce. There’s an audible crunch as you bite into the crunchy legs and I can’t help but sneak a few extra pieces on to my plate.
Deep fried barramundi – $25
Our last main arrives and it’s piled high with chunks of deep fried fish and vegetables. It’s the deep fried baby barramundi which has been deboned and fried. It comes with a home made chilli sauce and is fragrant with kaffir lime, ginger and chilli. The fish flesh is surprisingly moist after it’s treatment in the deep fryer and the combination of the crisp fish, sweet chunks of pineapple and subtle spicy kick is a winner. Queen Chu takes great delight in snapping off some of the deep fried fins and devouring them.
Tropicana fried rice – $14
As a stomach filler, we order the tropicana tomato fried rice which includes prawns, chorizo, pineapple and carrot and served with home made tomato chutney and a side salad.
Mango pancake – $7
And as part of their Mango Mondays promotion, we receive a free serve of mango pancakes! As full as we all are, we can’t help but take a little bite of this. Though the mango is a little sour, the cream is sweetened to offset the tartness and the pancake itself is reasonably thin and not rubbery in texture. It’s a great way to end the meal and though The Rice Den doesn’t stick to the one cuisine like most other Asian restaurants in Chatswood, it certainly does a good job of bringing Asian flavours together and making them work. And that’s what will make me keep coming back for more.
The Rice Den
3/77 Archer Street
Chatswood NSW 2067
Ph: +61 2 9411 2001
Open 7 days from 11am
No bookings taken on Friday and Saturday