Monday, 24 February 2014

Rice Workshop

238 Little Bourke Street 
Melbourne, VIC 

Summer makes life difficult. Not only are we temporarily living in a house with inadequate (read: a complete lack of) cooling, our bedrooms are upstairs. For everyone who hasn’t done year 5 science, hot air rises. So between being baked to a shrivelled crisp at night and frozen into a frozen shrivelled crisp at work during the day (chemotherapy gotta be kept cool!), my appetite has become a tad harder to please. I’ve always liked DonDon’s sashimi don on a hot day but, I’ve been having an awful lot of that recently. Combined with an increasing need to churn out another blog post, we ended up at Rice Workshop, a new Japanese restaurant in Chinatown that I’ve been eyeing off for a while. 

Rice Workshop is a lot like DonDon, but all slick and stylish instead of grungy and homely. True to its name, there is definitely a DIY feel to the dining experience here. You order your dish at the counter, and as you slide your tray along the bench towards the register, you have the option of selecting some deep fried munchies to go with your meal, some dessert to finish up your meal, as well as a variety of complimentary pickles and sauces to go on top of your meal. All of a sudden the limited menu doesn’t seem so restrictive anymore. 

Ontama Beef ($7.7, regular)/Takoyaki ($2.8)

Ontama Beef ($7.7, regular)

I was intent on having the sashimi on rice but when I saw the Ontama Beef ($7.7, regular), the simple combination of stewed beef and soft boiled egg took me right back to Japan, and I couldn’t resist. The slices of beef were lean yet tender, marinated in a sweet and savoury sauce that soaked into the bed of rice along with the creamy egg, making it sticky and flavoursome. I completed my dinner with a generous helping of my favourite radish pickles and a side of Takoyaki ($2.8), which were surprisingly crisp and held large pieces of octopus.

Chicken Karaage with Spicy Mayo ($7.9, regular)

Just like how I’ve had way too much sashimi don, Chris wanted a break from his usual curry don. So I talked him into the Chicken Karaage with Spicy Mayo ($7.9, regular). The chicken nuggets were fresh and tasted great when topped with the spicy, tangy mayo, but the meat to rice ratio left a lot to be desired. To put it in Chris’ words, ‘it’s nice, but I wouldn’t really go for it again unless you really like plain rice’

Rice Workshop has definitely achieved what it had set out to do – providing a cheap yet tasty Japanese meal with some pizzazz in the form of self-serve meal customisation. We still like DonDon more, but I do wish that they would crack an egg onto their sukiyaki don like Rice Workshop. 

Rating: 13/20 - Dondon two.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit. 

Rice Workshop on Urbanspoon


  1. Ooh, neato, this place is similar in concept to the joints we have here in Sydney - Menya Oiden (menu: and Menya Mappen!

    Love how you can pick and choose elements like the salads/pickles and fried-sticks to keep things interesting each time. Such simple yet homely and comforting food :)

    1. I've been eyeing off the those restaurants for a long time, hoping for something similar in Melbourne - I was so jealous! I adore the DIY concept, as well as how it doesn't limit you to ordering say, 6 takoyaki per serve, so you have the freedom to try more food :)

  2. Totally agree with Chris. If you buy the large size, you appear to just get more plain rice

  3. love yr blogs but Rw is just another factory produced crap. Purple Peanuts Japanese cafe or even Sushi monger at least have heart & passion. RW is just a factory.

    keep up the reviews :)