Melbourne and Australia in general are both well known for their delicious Asian cuisine.
Rice Queen is one of the many venues that serves up tasty pan Asian food, with influences from all over the world.
Rice Queen was originally a live music venue with a grazing menu located on Smith St, which was opened alongside the Panama Dining Room that the team at Rice Queen already owned in the same building. This venue was sold a year ago.
Almost three years ago moved to their current location on Brunswick Street and transformed into a diner and cocktail bar.
Lee Mack from Rice Queen says that the concept for the diner and cocktail bar came about by them trying to identify something missing on the street.
“You have plenty of dedicated cocktail bars but none really serving food. With the addition of our private karaoke room we wanted to create a fun all in one venue that provided a little escapism.”
The head chef’s name is Si Lam. Mack says Lam grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and spent a large part of his childhood growing up in a restaurant.
“He started cooking professionally around 8 years ago and has developed his own fusion style, taking influences from the large Korean and Mexican populations in the area and combining them with modern Californian food.”
At Rice Queen there are a number of staff from all over Asia. Mack says new menu items come about by taking ideas from all of these different cultures.
“It might be from the recipe of someone’s mother or grandmother back home, and inserting a modern twist,” explains Mack.
“Ideas are workshopped, there may be many versions of a final dish that get tasted or put up as specials to gauge customer reaction.
“Our produce comes from a wide variety of suppliers. We use a lot of specialty Asian grocery suppliers who are invaluable in helping us source some of the more unusual ingredients.
When choosing ingredients we try to find something of quality at a fair price. It’s also important to us that meats, fish etc are sustainably farmed/caught. You also need to make sure you can get a consistency of supply to provide continuity on the menu.”
The menu at Rice Queen changes with the seasons. There will always be signature dishes on the menu like the ever-popular KFC (Korean Fried Chicken), they tend to change dependent on ingredients and tastes of the season.
As Mack points out, there is no point putting on rich, slow cooked dishes in the middle of summer for example.
Aside from the KFC, other popular dishes include the addictive seven spiced crispy chicken ribs and the extensive cocktail list, with the Singapore Sling and Umeshu Sour being big sellers.
When it comes to pairing food and alcohol Mack says it’s important to consider the flavour of the food you are having.
“Most times you are wanting a drink that has similar flavours but is also quite different in it’s acid content. For example if a dish is quite rich or high it fats then you would choose something with good acid content to help cut through it and clean the palate.”
Rice Queen is a unique venue as it almost a one-stop shop. You can arrive for a pre dinner drink at the bar, enjoy a meal and then continue on with some drinks or even belt out some tunes in the karaoke room. On Thursdays to Sundays there are DJ’s playing funk, soul or even a little disco! There is always something for everyone.
389 Brunswick St,
Fitzroy VIC 3065
(03) 9419 6624