Rice Workshop (Emporium)
A rare day of public transport failures meant I was able to take the little sister (ruining my photo below) out to eat whilst we waited to get picked up. I rarely eat at casual places in the city now that I work full time in the inner suburbs, so I took advantage of this opportunity to try Rice Workshop, which had been recommended to me.
They recommended the original store, but I heard that a new branch was opening at the Emporium. I hadn’t had a chance to check out the Emporium, so it was like two birds with one stone. I knew it would be fast takeaway and although it was around 6.30pm, I knew we would still be able to order and eat before the centre closes at 7pm.
Overall, the Emporium is quite brightly lit, spacious and inviting. However, I couldn’t take in any atmosphere, as it was close to closing time and many shops still haven’t opened, so the centre felt very dead.
The menu is simple and direct, offering regular and large sizes of a decent range of rice and noodle dishes. I think the prices are also a great selling point, with regular dishes around the $7 mark whilst the large are all less than $10.
Unfortunately the service met the sub-standard levels of a food court. The staff seem new and nervous as it’s a new store, and the girl who served me didn’t seem to have a great knowledge of English nor the menu. My little sister ordered the regular chicken teriyaki ($7.20, right). I am fairly sure I ordered the curry pork katsu ($7.90, left), but they gave me a normal one instead, which in hindsight was probably a good mistake as I was debating between the two in my head.
We both enjoyed our food, my pork was crumbly and not dry, but my sister found the teriyaki sauce was a bit too sweet so by the time she got towards the end of the meal, it became overpowering. Like some other fast/takeaway places, I felt that the rice tends to fill the bowl up a lot underneath the toppings. Thus your meal seems more packed than it is – in the end I had a lot of rice left.
I noticed some chicken karaage ($1.90 – fried chicken) on offer and ordered this too. I didn’t realise they were skewers and placed at the front of the takeaway counter like your usual Asian takeaway. In addition to this, I don’t think the girl knew what chicken karaage was and just went to find a chicken one.
I think we were given a normal chicken skewer instead, but I would avoid the skewers and try a proper restaurant if you want quality. Or perhaps you can take your chances here if it seems you have just arrived after they’ve been freshly cooked.
The Chinatown branch of this place might be better, as they seem to have quite good reviews. I think this branch is good if you happen to be by the Emporium and would like a cheap but filling meal of good quality. Otherwise, I would willingly pay a few extra dollars somewhere else for a decent dine-in Japanese meal with atmosphere. The staff here need to do a bit of brushing up on their menu knowledge and for anything other than the main dishes, look elsewhere.