At the quieter southern end of Brunswick Street.PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
The signature dish of rice coloured bright red with annatto seeds is just the beginning of a contemporary approach at Red Rice. The food is fresh and flavoursome, with a reinvention of Vietnamese cuisine that is also reflected in the sleek but warm fit-out, complete with soft-lit table-lamps, and casually friendly yet attentive service. There’s an emphasis on fresh herbs, citrus juices, ginger, lemongrass and tamarind which enhances familiar entree items such as spring rolls and cold rolls as well as a delicious and warming tamarind prawn soup.
Dishes are nicely presented, tasty and satisfying but still reasonably priced. Mains include salads and noodle dishes as well as curry coconut chicken, house special five-spice calamari or the plum duck – marinated in spices, steamed then fried and served with a coriander pancake, steamed bok choy and a spicy plum sauce. Vegetarian dishes include grilled eggplant, a tofu stack and vegetable curry. The beef special is quite spectacular, delivered not just sizzling but flaming to your table along with an assortment of rice paper, chilli and fresh vegetables from which you assemble your own rice paper rolls. It all makes it not just extremely delicious but also interactive. Desserts have a Western influence (bread and butter pudding, for instance) and are generally a cut above what you would usually find in Asian restaurants.