Rice Workshop - CLOSED
There's real freshness in both the produce and the approach to contemporary Japanese here.
While Sydney Japanese takeaway mainly revolves around sushi and sashimi, Rice Workshop offers another rich array of options. Inspired by rice bowl bars, it offers the convenience and cheapness of fast food, but with none of the greasiness or general aura of tiredness that often involves.
Already a fixture in Melbourne, Rice Workshop offers a mix and match menu that covers udon soba, curry udon and tempura. You can't go wrong with the chicken katsu curry ($8.50/$9.90), which has crumbed fingers of deep-fried chicken fillet and pieces of sliced carrot swimming in a thick, gravy-like curry sauce. Neat slices of pickled red radish add a bit of crunch to the mix.
Another reliable choice is the ontama beef ($8.70/9.90) with a soft-boiled egg perched on tender pieces of shredded beef, cooked in a soya broth. The slightest touch on the egg releases runny yolk which acts almost like a sauce, mingling in with thin pieces of meat and rice to create a gooey, delicious texture.
Salmon is one of their staples and is delivered fresh daily. You can order it as part of a marinated salad, an ontama rice bowl or raw salmon ($9.50), where you can combine soy sauce and wasabi paste to give real kick to the fresh cubes of raw fish and shavings of nori seaweed on a base of rice.
With most dishes coming atop a bed of white rice, it's a filling affair, though there are lighter options, like the teriyaki chicken salad ($7.90), which boasts a slightly sticky sauce and comes with some crisp swiss chard leaves, a firm halved cherry tomato, succulent corn and crunchy shallots.
There are also some udon dishes, vegetable pancakes and a couple of tofu selections, plus reliable Japanese side dishes like miso soup ($2), edamame ($2.90) and even a couple of desserts in the form of green tea soft serve. On the beverage front, there's Japanese soft drinks and the curiously titled sports drink Pocari Sweat.
The sterile food court location means it's more of an option to pick up a quick workday lunch than somewhere to linger, but Rice Workshop offers crazy good value and a real freshness in both the produce and their approach to contemporary Japanese.