Rice Workshop

238 Little Bourke St, Melbourne 3000
Date visited: 2nd January 2014

There is a new restaurant in town where Kimurakan used to be.  After our old friend closed down, we kept giving our old uni days haunt nostalgic glances every time we passed, until one day someone came along to take its place.  It's called Rice Workshop, and a sign outside claims it to have the best beef bowl out of Japan.

Looking up their website, Rice Workshop is a Japanese bar where you get to build your own rice bowl, toppings and sides.  The place is run by chef Tom Suzuki from Shyun and David Loh, who also owns Dessert Story, Taiwan Cafe and Food Republik.  A visit was definitely in order.

The entrance to Rice Workshop isn't actually on Little Bourke St - although the door is open, there is a sign advising you to enter through the other entrance on Tattersall's Lane.  We soon realised when we stepped in - you start at one end, choose your rice or noodle bowl, add toppings/sides/drinks/dessert and then pay at the other end.   

They have a good range of mains that are divided into beef or chicken bowls; they also have salad, salmon or curry bowls and also udon bowls.  Others include katsu (deep fried) and chicken karaage, as well as sides including miso soup, takoyaki, edamame and croquettes.  And you can add a salad or miso and small drink for only $3.50.

Ordering and getting our food only took minutes, which was great.  There was seating upstairs as well, but a table cleared when we were done, so we sat downstairs.

There were so many donburi that sounded tempting - I had a hard time picking one.  In the end, I decided on the Ontama Beef bowl and added a miso soup and drink.

Ontama Beef (regular) $7.70
Miso soup + drink $3.50
The Ontama beef was thinly sliced beef, simmered with onion and soya broth, topped with a soft boiled egg.  At first glance I thought the beef portion was pretty small until I started eating and hmmm there was more and more underneath.  The beef was sweet, savoury and meaty, and the rice moist with the broth.  Break open the soft boiled egg and the yolk oozing over the rice and beef just added that extra oomph.  

MerlinFan had the Chicken Karaage with spicy mayo.

Chicken Karaage $7.90
MerlinFan was shocked twice - first that it was so cheap and secondly that the amount of chicken was so generous for the price.  This was so unlike some places (which will remain nameless) that serve bowls at the same price or more, but with such measly toppings that leave the customers feeling somewhat cheated.  The chicken karaage here was juicy and tender, the skin crispy and perfectly seasoned.  The spicy mayo sure packed a good kick too.

Can't believe I'm salivating writing this post.  Anyways, MerlinFan and I were sad to see Kimurakan go, but fret not, a new haunt has taken it's place.  Rice Workshop sure earned brownie points for novelty value and it was refreshing to find a place that served up great quality and hearty amounts for the very reasonable price offered.  Am excited about this place - would love to go back and try their other dishes on offer.  Oh yes, it was funny to see men in suits leaving with green tea soft serve cones that they offer for $2.  Must try one day. 

Second visit here

Rice Workshop on Urbanspoon

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  1. I have been to their party- have you?

    By the way are you on holidays? Am liking your posts so far especially the country ones.

    1. No, didn't go to their party, nice pics of the Harajuku girls on your post btw!

      Thanks and yes, on holidays - came and gone too quickly :(

    2. thanks. thanks for following me

  2. Oh wow is that Coke really big or is it just the angle? Haven't seen them that big except back in SanFran. We must go here for the green tea soft serve cones! :)

    1. Haha the angle probably contributed. It was the skinny and tall 300ml can :D