Vanessa: The latest addition to St Leonard’s dining district is serving up modern Cantonese food that you’ll want to tell your friends about. The Rice Den, previously located in Chatswood, boasts a contemporary setting with a warm, inviting ambience that allows guests to settle in and enjoy all that the menu has to offer.
The focus of the menu is very much on farm-to-table ingredients as was explained to us on our recent visit by the charismatic Head Chef, Roy Chan. Roy explained the inspiration behind the menu is to reincarnate traditional dishes from his homeland with a modern flair and finesse.
The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner and whenever you choose to dine I suggest arriving on an empty stomach. The style of the dishes are best to be shared and there are so many tempting offerings I can guarantee you won’t walk away hungry!
On this particular evening we were treated to a set menu that allowed us to taste some of the restaurants finest offerings.
First up we were presented with a visually striking plate of red wine cured ocean trout served with pickled fennel, ginger and soy sauce. A light and pleasant dish that geared up the palate for the feast ahead.
This was soon joined by scallop and prawn sui mai dumplings and a delicious tea smoked chicken salad with rice sheets, sesame and soy dressing and Chinkiang vinegar. The salad had the wow-factor for me and a peanut-flavor which further added to the appeal. A really beautiful and light dish which I’ll definitely order again.
Next up was the aromatic duck san choy bow and the hand-made cheong fun with sesame and hoisin sauce. Having never tried cheong fun I was really impressed by the soft texture of the noodle which retained an ever so slight density and was paired well with the sauce.
The crispy soft shell crab topped with spicy spanner crab and mung bean noodles was a winner before it even hit the table. A fantastic crispy dish, full of flavor and a must to try!
The classic Canton style barbecue pork neck was thinly sliced, a decent serving size and had just the right level of sweetness to it.
Our savory dishes were completed with a serve of the fluffy Rice Den Fried Rice mixed with Chinese sausage and shiitake mushrooms.
We heard rumblings of the desserts on offer and let me tell you one of them in particular blew my socks off! The French toast with dulce de leche, peanut crumble, marscapone with matcha green tea should be put on your “must try” list when you visit. I felt the texture was comparable to that of a cronut but with a softer interior and the ingredients combined perfectly to create a delicious, memorable dessert.
The Ovaltine Pannacotta with whisky glaze and roasted chestnuts was also a crowd pleaser and unique in flavour. The Ovaltine element stirred up nostalgic discussion as we reminisced of schools canteen days, munching on Ovatines!
The Rice Den definitely gets the thumbs up from me if you are looking for great food and a comfortable setting where you can spend time grazing with a group of hungry people!
Don’t leave without trying the French toast!
Photos by Alex