Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Restaurant Review: Rice Queen, Fitzroy, Melbourne

On my last visit  to Melbourne I had dinner at the Panama Dining Room which was a very cool Melbourne venue. Just downstairs is the hip younger sister Rice Queen. I had a free evening on my visit to Melbourne last week so decided to go and check it out.

The double height room is funkily decorated. The painted walls look like enlarged floral wallpaper designs. Eclectic furniture fills the rest of the room which can roughly be broken into three areas: a dining section, sofas for hanging out and raised tables near the bar.

Along the front wall there is a stage which has a grand piano sitting on it. The night I was there a jazz trio started playing half way through the evening. A female singer with a smokey voice was accompanied by a double bass and someone tinkering on the grand. They provided a good backdrop to all of the groups that had popped in for dinner. I initially felt a bit conspicuous dining on my own (the perils of travelling for work), but soon relaxed into my surroundings.

The male staff all had buttoned up collars (no ties) and the girls were wearing aprons. I'm not sure what style they were going for, but somehow it all fitted together.

Rice Queen styles itself as an Oriental Diner. I'm not really sure what that means. The menu was pan-Asian with Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Malaysian, Taiwanese and Thai dishes on the menu, which I guess is the Oriental. It didn't have a particular 'Diner' feel though.

As a starter I ordered the Taiwanese beef and kimchi served with a star anise soy sauce. Oh wow. Don't be fooled by the dodgy dimly lit photo, this was surprisingly tasty. The thinly shaved beef, crunchy and sour pickles (it didn't taste like any kimchi I've had before) and slightly sweet soy sauce (I think it was more complex than simply soy and star anise) all went perfectly together.

Texturally you had soft beef with the crunchy pickles. On the taste front you had hot, sour, salty and a bit of sweetness. I was a big fan. So big in fact I'm putting it on my top eats page.

Unfortunately the Malaysian Kari Kambing curry that I had as a main course wasn't nearly as exciting. It just tasted a bit generic.

Rice Queen is a good example of a laid back, urban, edgy Melbourne venue. A good place to hang out with friends. I'd be interested to try more of the menu to find out if contained a series of outstanding dishes or sadly some more misses.

Level 2 / 231 Smith Street,

Rice Queen on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I was in Melbourne the other weekend for work and did the same solo dining. Shame about the ordinary curry