Scorcher reviews: Rice Fields — ‘simple food, done well’
41-43 Military Rd
“Eat, drink, kiss, laugh, talk and chill.” Those six words sound like a recipe for the perfect night out.
At Rice Fields, a spiffy little pan-Asian diner located in the middle of a strip shopping centre in Avondale Heights, those six verbs hang on the wall, in bright blue neon, imploring diners to have a crack at ticking off the whole list.
Tony Leonard, our very own pub guru, tipped me off to Rice Fields. I rocked up half expecting it to be one of those loveable, daggy old suburban Asian restaurants. It ain’t that. It is very loveable, but Rice Fields is definitely a dag-free zone.
The place is bright and busy and breezy, with modern wooden tables, matte black upholstery and metal accents, white exposed brick walls and indoor foliage.
The sizeable, South East Asian-hopping menu is a kind of Chinese-Vietnamese hybrid, with a few Malay dishes thrown in for good measure. You’ll need a bit of thinking time before deciding what to eat though; the menu is made up of an extensive list of noodle soups, Chinese-inspired meat and seafood dishes, rice plates and Vietnamese vermicelli bowls.
I actually wouldn’t be opposed to ordering “game show style”. You could put all the dishes on a giant wheel and have the waitress give it an almighty spin. You eat whatever it lands on. We could call it Meal of Fortune. You might end up ordering something you didn’t want but boy it would be thrilling!
Fortunately, Rice Fields does let your select your own meal. The menu is packed with fan favourites such as a gorgeous bowl of slippery wontons in chilli oil with bok choi and fried onions. Wontons in chilli oil, that would almost be my Chinese cuisine desert island dish.
For main, our lightly battered salt and pepper chicken ribs were succulent and moreish, served with wok-tossed peppers and wontons skins. Also on the list of sharing dishes are many of those old-school dishes you know and love, including things that sizzle – Mongolian beef, garlic prawns, pepper beef – as well as XO chilli prawns, char keow teow, Singapore noodles, salt and pepper squid, sweet and sour chicken.
I’ve always been quite partial to a big, steaming plate of noodles and Rice Field’s XO beef ho fun is a beauty, made with grandma’s secret homemade XO sauce recipe and served with bean shoots, onions, chives and wok fried ho fun noodles.
Rice Fields is one of those great little casual places where simple Chinese food is done well. So come in and tick off the big six on the wall: chill out at the window bar and watch the world go by while you’re having a chat and a laugh, and pash on with a loved one over some salt and pepper squid.
That’s my recipe for the perfect night out.