30 Apr Rice Queen, Fitzroy
It’s dark and moody, decked out with plastic cherry blossoms, red lanterns and a variety of other kitsch decorations. Welcome to Rice Queen.
The menu leans heavily towards snacks and shared dining, picking from various Asian cuisines, including Korean, Japanese, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese. The food has plenty of flavour, from the succulent Wok-fried Spicy Eggplant with tofu and garlic, to the crispy strips of Lamb Backstrap with cumin, onions and capsicum. The Salt and Pepper Squid has a lightly crisp coating, and come on a glass noodle salad of carrot, cucumber, goji berries, fresh herbs and lime chilli dressing. The Vietnamese-leaning flavours are fresh and vibrant, and there’s lots of chilli for a good kick of heat.
The Korean Fried Chicken comes recommended. The ribs are seasoned with a mix of seven spices and tossed with spring onions and chillis. A basil and mint sauce is provided for dipping. The chicken is quite peppery and deliciously juicy, with a nice and crispy batter too. The Korean DIY Tacos are not exactly tacos. Slow-roasted pulled pork, kimchi and homemade sauce come ready to wrap in the butter lettuce cups. Add in some of the steamed rice and you’ve got yourself ssambap.
The highlight of the meal is the 48-hour Spicy Beef Short Rib. The rib is tender and tasty. The meat comes easily off the bone, ready to be made into gua bao along with pickled cucumbers, herbs and a spicy sesame soybean paste that’s packed with flavour.
The serving sizes aren’t exactly big, but Rice Queen has a great vibe, and the pan-Asian dishes will suit those who want a bit of everything.