Rice Workshop Japanese Donburi Style
Rice Workshop is a welcome addition to the CBD serving up tasty quick relatively healthy Japanese meals at affordable prices with Melbourne food identities Restaurateur David Loh and Chef Tomohiro Suzuki behind the eatery. This is modern dining. Diners are impressed with the level of customisation available. The concept is of rice bowl dishes based on the idea of Donburi where you can get rice meals from a vending machine. Having lined up here and ordered, the turnaround for a meal was not much longer than from a vending machine. Although in my case shorter - as it would take me 5 min to work out how such a vending machine worked.
Our family loves quick Japansese take away dishes like Don Don and Hanaichi, and now Rice Workshop. The portions at Rice Workshop are decent in the large bowls, and you can customise the sides depending on how hungry you feel and what mood you're in.
Just line up at the counter and order your main dish, such as the Chicken Karaage with spicy mayo, or Salmon Bowl, and then decide on a drink and salad. Combo deals are excellent.
The restaurant launched with a spectacular Harajuku themed dress up party and the vibrancy hasn't stopped. The World Loves Melbourne wasn't able to make it to the dress up party, but wandered into Rice Workshop on a cold evening after a foodie event was cancelled at the last minute. I was after some comfort food, being in a mood of frustration, and Rice Workshop delivered.
David Loh is the man behind Dessert Story franchise - with these outlets seemingly popping up all over the place, as well as other Melbourne restaurants. Suzuki is behind the popular Shyun in Carnegie. So this is a team that knows what it's doing.
Rice Workshop serves up tasty Japanese classics such as the Chicken Katsu Don, or Curry Bowl, Tofu, Salmon Bowl or Beef Bowl with Kimchi Beef, Ontama Beef or Stewed Beef, all in these large modern cups/bowls, in quick time.
The point is there is a good deal of choice here - something to suit most tastes. I ordered the Teriyaki Chicken, which I found to be rewarding with tender chicken and pleasing teriyaki. I enjoyed the fact the chicken fillet was char grilled to crispy golden. This meal was filling - I can imagine students making Rice Workshop a regular mainstay.
Then move along to the end of the display cabinet and order your sides. If you fancy pick up some takoyaki (savoury pancake ball with octopus and shallots) or edamame (chilled soya bean pods seasoned with salt) or okonomiyaki.
Rice Workshop offers some refreshing side salads, such as the green salad with corn I consumed. Or order the miso soup instead of a salad to make up your combo.
Rice Workshop has a condiments bar where I loaded up on pickled vegetables... And probably overdid it.
Rice Workshop continues its customisation with its drinks, including house made lemon ice tea. I was relatively boring and just selected an apple juice.
For dessert you can line up a Green Tea soft serve. Or try some daifuku glutinous rice dish.
Rice Workshop has a modern fit out and features an upstairs area to complement that smallish downstairs section. The team at Brandworks designed the store, and has been linked with several highly successful restaurant designs of late. The young designers of Brandworks are super talented and are a success story in themselves.
Says the website of Rice Workshop,
"Being the only Japanese rice bar in town makes us sound pretty cool, but wait until you actually step inside. Inspired by the energy of Japan’s famous Shibuya district, the décor is a feast for the senses, with its futuristic mix of street elements and origami sprinkled with a hint of Street Fighter."
Staff here are super friendly and aim to please. While it is self serve the engagement of the staff is still important and the tone is warm and welcoming. Rice Workshop is worth a visit for its wide choice, tasty meals, customisation and modern ambience.