Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Sydney, North, Thai
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The Rice Den, Chatswood

Chatswood seems to be a food hub recently, with the introduction of it’s new “eat street”, a dining hub which boasts no fewer than seven different restaurants and cafes with a variety of different food and drink offerings. This new hub is on the Westfields side of Chatswood and boasts big names such as Bavarian Bier Cafe and the very well known Mamak Restaurant.

If you take a stroll to the other side of Chatswood train station, you’ll find Chatswood Chase and a slew of other restaurants. The last time I went to Chatswood, Chatswood Chase looked totally different (10 years ago), so I was surprised to see it get a make over.

What you’ll also find is a new restaurant called The Rice Den. Situated away from the crowds of Eat Street, it sits halfway between Chatswood Train Station and Chatswood Chase. A few friends of mine have been meaning to take us here, it’s a bit of a regular joint for them since they live in the area.

It’s hard to explain the cuisine type here, it’s ‘Modern fusion Asian’ but it doesn’t really stick to one cuisine. You’ll find a bit of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Malaysian. It’s a jack of all trades, but master of what?

Steamed cheong fun - $6

The balmy summers evening is kicked off with the steamed cheong fun. It’s a photogenic plate of soft steamed rice noodles with a sweet sesame and ‘Rice Den’ sauce, which had hints of hoisin and soy. On top were fresh shiitake mushrooms and shiso leaves and fried onions which added a bit of texture.

This dish surprised me a little, it’s a nice twist on the conventional offering at most Yum Cha restaurants.

School prawn stack ($11)

One  of my favourite snacks at home is to deep fry a bunch of school prawns and have them splashes of fish sauce and Vietnamese herbs. So when I saw it on Rice Den’s menu I had to give it a go. It’s not as adventurous as my creation, but it’s good to see it on a restaurant menu as I think it is an underrated seafood option.

The prawns are crisp and juicy and come to life with a squeeze of fresh lime and dollop of the aioli. The prawns were a tad under seasoned, but it’s a perfect snack option while sculling down a beer or two.

Tu's original home town pad thai ($16)

They got me at the words original and home town. This pad thai is the recreation by one of the chef’s named Tu. It’s a slightly sweeter version of pad thai than I am use to, but I love the addition of fresh chives, peanuts and chili flakes on the side.

Deep fried barramundi ($23)

A whole baby barramundi de-boned , fried and dressed with home-made chilli sauce, kaffir lime leaf, ginger, pineapple and sliced chilli, served on a bed of bok choy.

Mongolian lamb cutlets ($16)

Mongolian lamb brings back memories of having lunch in the various food courts in Chinatown during my Uni days. I’ve always wondered though, what goes into a Mongolian lamb sauce and do people in Mongolia actually eat this dish? I’ve always thought of it to be similar to sweet and sour pork, but that doesn’t stop me from ordering it.

Rice Den’s version isn’t quite like the food court versions, with tender pieces of lamb cutlets lightly drizzled with a ‘Mongolian Sauce’ sitting on a bed of crispy onion rings. The onion rings however make the dish a bit ‘heavy’.

The Rice Den is another recent addition to the booming Chatswood food scene. They find themselves on the other side of  ‘Eat Street’ so the opportunities of catching the through traffic of Bavarian and Mamak patrons is missed. In saying that, they find themselves with a niche offering in the area. Their fusion style menu with a modern twist is something which can appeal to a variety of demographics. When we were dining there, we noticed a lot of random and curious diners who popped in just to see what the fuss is about, hopefully this means return customers.

The interior is modern and funky, with a youthful design with wooden tables and benches. In terms of the food, it’s an interesting take on the Modern Asian Fusion genre. It remains to be seen what tricks The Rice Den have up their sleeve to compete with the crowd who are on the ‘other’ side of the fence along ‘Eat Street’. If anything, I think they need that one signature dish that will drive customers back, a bit like their neighbours Mamak and their roti canai. It’s early days but I think they have a lot of potential to drive on, the Chef’s and owners are young and have plenty of time on their side.

Address
3 / 77 Archer Street
Chatswood, 2067

Telephone
02 9411 2001

Venue Website
www.thericeden.com.au

The Rice Den on Urbanspoon

21 Comments

  1. That prawnstack is looking soo good! And don’t get me started on the barramundi and Mongolian lamb. Awesome round-up dude – and the photos are delicious!

  2. I work around the corner from Chatswood and yep, it’s incredible the pace of new and wonderful food options cropping up on Chatswood-town.. hadn’t heard about this place so might check it out for lunch!

  3. Linda says

    I’ve been to Rice Den a couple of times and have really enjoyed all the dishes I’ve tried. It’s a chilled, funky place with awesome food. The barramundi and steamed cheong fun are great and this place is one of my faves in Chatswood.

  4. silverlily says

    I visited them last year and was quite confused as to their ‘direction’. I also ordered the steamed cheong fun and, like you, thought it was a very good twist on the classic. Unfortunately none of the other dishes we ordered impressed us. They were just a bit too modern and a bit too fusion. :)

  5. It’s lovely to see Asian food with modern presentation. The steamed Cheong Fun with Rice Den sauce is something of a breakfast staple here in Malaysia. The sauce is actually made of fermented Soy Bean paste + hoisin sauce. The dish usually comes with a tablespoon of tangy chili sauce or sambal to offset the sweetness and coyness of the sauce. Some places also put in crunchy dried prawn bits in place of the fried shallots.

    It’s funny to see cream drizzled over the the dish though. I wonder what it taste like. It’s time for an experiment.

      • Interesting. I’ve not had this version with Peanut Sauce before. Another popular version of Steamed Rice Roll is from Penang and that version contains Prawn Paste, Sweet Hoisin Sauce, Chili and what we call Peanut Butter – which is like a peanut & sesame sauce combo.

        I am curious to try this combination out and see if it works. Who knows, we might just find ourselves a hybrid version.

  6. Love your blog, and great pictures!

    Seems like you are slightly confused about the geography of Chatswood though! Ha ha…

    • Hey auri, fair call and you are probably right! It’s been at least 10 years since my last visit, let me know what isn’t correct and I’ll fix it up cheers!

  7. Nice looking place and I like the name too. Maybe Chatswood is the early 2011 version of Neutral Bay with its food revival.

    Love the look of the steamed cheong fun and the mongolian lamb cutlets. Delish.

  8. Have been past this place a few times already myself and am attracted by the funky dark decor. Having looked at the menu though, was a bit confused by the mish-mash of Asian cuisines within and didn’t really quite know what to expect…

  9. Been a long long time since I’ve been to Chatswood (don’t exactly work or live close by), sounds like a nice little addition to the area, probably better that it isn’t in the middle of the new ‘eat street’, less crowds to fight I suppose?

  10. With the melting pot of Asian/fusion cuisines I would have written this off hand but there looks to be some nice dishes from the way you describe it.

    May have to reevaluate my views towards these sorts of restaurants.

  11. Modern Asian generally doesn’t compare to traditional Asian cuisine to me, but the dishes in this post look worth trying. Maybe it’s just because you’re a great photographer :)

  12. It’s been ages since I was in Chatswood, too, so it’s good to find out about the new food places. The pad thai looks alright. By the way, I was at a place called Noodle House in Cammeray Square recently, and it has really good Thai food.

  13. Lachlan says

    I’ve been there a couple of times, some awesome and interesting dishes and pretty awesome staff
    Nice to see some more places popping up for the folk of the North

  14. Went there a few weeks ago and like Silverlily, was also disappointed by the lack of direction in the menu. It was tricky to navigate their menu when they have Thai, Malay, Chinese, Japanese etc. in both classic and fusion dishes. They don’t immediately scream out that they are a fusion restaurant either – something easily rectified in their signboards and/or menu – I was expecting a restaurant specializing in rice dishes!

    We tried a mix of exotic alongside traditional dishes and while decent none were real standouts.

    The staff were very enthusiastic and passionate about their food so hopefully they overcome their growing pains!

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