Update – February 11, 2009
I passed by and noticed the signage had been replaced by a new one: Sun Sushi (Eat In and Take Out). This makes it the fourth sushi place within a three block radius along this section of 10th Ave.
Original post – January 27, 2009
4512 West 10th Ave
(604) 222 8868
Housed in a space that used to be a cozy, free Wi-Fi cafe known as Think!, the Rice Bar emerged in its place and is what could best be described as a Hong Kong-style cafeteria… minus the constant flow of customers and a packed room. When I first saw the nameplate go up outside, there was a small part of me that was hoping that this would perhaps be something refreshing for this neighborhood – such as a specialty Japanese sake drinking establishment – given the ‘rice’ plus ‘bar’ naming. But alas, it was not to be.
On the occasions that I’ve passed by this past year, I’ve rarely ever seen people inside, either eating in or ordering takeout. I thought it would not be long before the place was re-invented by another business on this relatively secluded, very west side shopping street. Surprisingly, I believe its been many months now since it opened, and recently I thought I would give it a chance to see what it had to offer but I was not expecting much…
“Order Here”, the sign on the counter clearly states. Too bad there’s no human to take my order. All I can hear is the sounds coming from the small tv screen on the back wall, I think it was some Chinese television drama, as well as the C-pop coming out from the wall speakers. A shame that’s the only source of noise to be found. If not for that, I think I could have heard crickets.
After a few minutes, a person appeared and I was able to place my order. I had hoped to get the Pork Ribs that I had heard a little about, but alas they were out. Strange, it was still the early evening and had already run out. In its place, I decided to go with what I thought would be a fairly safe bet in the BBQ Pork. I know there are those who like it to be fattier, or perhaps a mix of lean and fat, but I prefer the healthier variety and find that the BBQ flavor is retained better in the leaner cuts. I was asked for my decision on the sauce I wanted with it, and opted for a soy-based one thinking it was the most natural fit with the flavor of the pork. As you might be able to tell from the image above, it was a simple few spoonfuls that was put on the rice, which the pork covered up. It did nothing for amping up the taste profile.
The Chicken Wings I ordered thinking that I would easily get sick of the BBQ Pork after a few slices. And at these prices (both under six dollars), I thought having a double dip wouldn’t be hard on the wallet. The wings were really crispy, and had a nice salty and textured coating that I enjoyed. I’m not sure exactly what else was in the breading but it did have some other flavor properties that you don’t get in western-style chicken wings. I could have easily gone for another batch of three, and they could have deleted the rice. I preferred these less greasy wings, compared to the ones I had at Wo Fung. I’d come back for these.
Speaking of the rice, in both containers, it was pretty bland and really dried out. I know this is more Chinese style, but I find it so lacking in flavor that I hardly eat any of it as I think its more suited for fried rice. And the minuscule drops of “sauce” with the BBQ Pork didn’t help in this regard. Each “main” came with the choice of a soup, salad or dessert. I elected the bamboo shoot soup with both, as the salad would have been a boring mixed greens and I am not a big fan of Asian desserts. The soup upon opening the lid, I thought would have a sour element, but it had none at all. It was nothing more than average and very lukewarm by the time I got back home.
The Rice Bar has dedicated so much of its area to seating. Tables with chairs, a counter with stools that lines one wall, another seating area by the front window, etc. Its sad that there is no one to use them. I am not sure what else they could do with all this space however, as their counters are already a pretty good size, and its not equipped to handle the actual cooking stations (which are in the back room). I wouldn’t want to be the owner of this problem…
Any of you turn right around out the door after entering a restaurant that is dead empty?
And do really quiet places make you always choose to take out when you could just as easily eat-in?