Previously located at Chatswood, The Rice Den has opened in St Leonards bringing to the lower north shore a menu of contemporary Cantonese dishes with a focus on farm-to-table food, classic cocktails, craft beers and wine.
The Rice Den, St Leonards
The Rice Den is owned by Roy Chan, Edmund Li, Nelson Cheng, and there is a silent partner. With head chefs Nelson Cheng and Roy Chan at the helm, the venue brings authentic Cantonese flavours and traditional techniques into a menu with modern twists.
Nelson Cheng to develop his knowledge and technique for modern Asian cuisine at Canberra’s The Chairman and Yip as an apprentice then moved back to Sydney and trained at Salt, Bristol LuLu and later on at Pello which developed his French techniques.
The interior is a collaboration between Rita Cheung, Roy Chan and Morris Selvatico, a fusion of new and old with aged timbers, industrial furniture, a polished concrete floor, caged lighting and open shelving with Asian pottery and bamboo steamers. The central feature is the corner kitchen with an abacus design.
Deep Fried Wontons
The menu offers a choice of Banquets starting from $40 pp (min 4 persons) with a Vegetarian option for $35 then splits the dishes into Small Eats, Bigger Eats, Rice & Noodles and Desserts.
Assorted House Made Pickles
The venue is fully licensed with craft beer and wine available as well as a selection of easy to drink cocktails ($17) that don’t assault the palate.
L-R: Canton Cooler, Buddha’s Tears
The Canton Cooler is gin-based, very light and refreshing with savoury notes from the coriander, dry sherry and cucumber. Buddha’s Tears is a little fruitier and sweeter on the palate made with Zubrowka Bison Grass vodka, peach liqueur, lychees and garnished with cucumber.
Tsing Tao Served in a Cup
Order a Tsing Tao beer ($13) and the 640ml bottle is served in a cup which puts a different spin on enjoying the Chinese brew.
Hand Made Cheong Fun Sesame, Hoisin Sauce
Start with the Hand Made Cheong Fun Sesame with Hoisin Sauce ($8), bite sized rice noodle rolls that melt in the mouth.
Scallop and Prawn Sui Mai
The Scallop and Prawn Sui Mai (4 Pieces for $16) are densely packed and have a fresh seafood flavour.
Stir Fry Roast Duck Sang Choi Bao
It’s difficult not fill up on the Stir Fry Roast Duck Sang Choi Bao (2 Pieces for $15) with generous pieces of succulent duck.
Tea-Smoked Chicken Salad
The Tea-Smoked Chicken Salad ($16) is light and vibrant with a hint of smoke on the palate. The transparent rice sheets take on the flavours of the sesame and Soy dressing, Chinkiang vinegar to make it a favourite.
Rice Wine Cured Ocean Trout
The Ocean Trout ($16) is cured in rice wine and comes with shavings of pickled fennel, ginger and soy sauce. It may not be a traditional dish but it is fresh and vibrant.
Canton Style Bbq Pork Neck with Molasses and Honey Glaze
The Canton Style BBQ Pork Neck ($16) comes glazed with molasses and honey. The meat is tender and sweet and the dish is substantial in size.
Crispy Soft Shell Crab Topped With Spicy Spanner Crab, Mung Bean Noodles
The Crispy Soft Shell Crab Topped with Spicy Spanner Crab and Mung Bean Noodles ($24) is best described as “crab on crab” and is another standout dish on the menu. The spanner crab component is mildly spiced and the whole dish comes together well with the thin noodles that absorb the flavour.
The Rice Den Fried Rice
There’s fried rice and then there’s The Rice Den Fried Rice ($16). This version is good enough to eat on its own and comes with spicy Chinese sausages and shiitake mushrooms.
Slow Braised Chu-Hou Beef Cheek
The seasonal Slow Braised Chu-Hou Beef Cheek Kohlrabi, Baby Carrot, Corn ($32) is pure comfort food. The meat is so tender that it breaks apart easily and the rich braise has a delicate mix of spices that you would want to soak up with rice.
Steamed Broccolini Preserved Mustard Green
The Steamed Broccolini ($12) get a dose of preserved mustard green and make a good palate cleanser before dessert.
Ovaltine Pannacotta Whisky Glaze, Roasted Chestnut
There is a choice of two desserts on the menu. The Ovaltine Pannacotta ($14) comes with whisky glazed roasted chestnuts, strawberries and dollops of creamy and bitter orange. It’s delicious, light and not overly sweet.
French Toast Dulce De Leche, Peanut Crumble, Mascarpone
But if you have a sweet tooth, indulge in the French Toast ($14) filled with dulce de leche, topped with a peanut crumble with a side of mascarpone sprinkled with matcha. And don’t count the calories.
No matter what you order, the food at The Rice Den is a delight and the dishes are well portioned and reasonably priced. We suggest you bring a healthy appetite and bring your friends. The experience is best enjoyed in company so you can try as many dishes as possible. It’s well worth crossing the bridge for.
The Rice Den
300-32 Chandos Street
Saint Leonards NSW 2065
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