Sandwiched in between wheels and hardware stores in a row of shophouses, Rice & Fries seems to be the in the unlikeliest of places for an eatery. But sitting just a stone’s throw from Kembangan MRT Station, this homey eating spot was unanimously rated highly among the monkies (and me!) after our meal!
Helmed by chef-owner Ken Chia - who had previous appointments at The Ritz Carlton, Fullerton and Crowne Plaza Hotel - Rice & Fries serves simple but delicious recipes at pocket-friendly prices, all in a casual setting.
This is exactly the kind of place to go if you are looking for a simple gathering with family or friends. Somehow, the interior of the eatery exudes a sense of cheerfulness and total relaxation... which I think the colourful chalk drawings all around had a hand in that too!
Given that the place is not huge, I obviously did not expect a bouncy castle or play area for the kids. But I was pleasantly surprised with the inclusion of a reading corner, stocked with a decent amount of kids' books, in the eatery. Which the monkies needed no invitation to help themselves to, of course.
And in case you are wondering, Rice & Fries does not only serve rice and fries. It is called as such because Chef Ken wanted to do a mixture of Eastern and Western dishes. Rice = East and Fries = West... geddit?
Anyway, while the monkies were busy reading away, the wifey and I had the luxury of some couple time (no matter how fleeting) to indulge in some Starters.
The Salmon Salad ($8.80) was a great start, with the salmon being fresh and the drizzle of the honey mustard dressing working harmoniously with the mesclun salad.
If the salad was of the standard appetizer fare, then the Soft Shell Crab with Chili and Mantou ($9.80) was a totally new experience for the tastebuds.
Originally concocted as a SG50 dish, it was not meant to be a long-term fixture in the menu. But due to the overwhelming response, it became permanent... so that even kids can try it!
Yes, the monkies all loved the chill crab sauce as it was flavourful but not that spicy. See how Ale was dipping the fry into the sauce? Well actually, the Truffle Fries ($8.80) were more than tasty to eat on their own.
But one Starter that I absolutely have to give special mention to is the Forest Mushroom Cappuccino Soup ($4.80).
Erm, what? Cappuccino soup?? Not to worry, no caffeine in the soup but rather, the soup comes with a froth-like top layer. The soup was delightfully creamy, with a full-bodied mushroom flavour. Definitely one of the best mushroom soups I have tasted and it seemed that Ale totally agreed.
The amazing thing about the starters is they did not feel overly heavy but instead whetted our appetite when it came to the Mains.
The wifey had the Salted Egg Pasta ($18.80), which is not on the menu but written on the chalkboard as one of the eatery's specials.
The pasta dish was simply bursting with flavours, while the prawns played off the salted egg well. However, I recommend sharing it with another person since the sauce might be a tad too heavy to finish everything on your own.
I had the Crab Risotto ($19.80), which is also not on the main menu but features in an additional side clipboard menu.
There were generous pieces of crab claw meat, and I was told by Chef Ken that the lobster stock that the risotto was cooked in had been laboriously prepared for hours. And the taste test definitely did not lie - especially since the monkies ended up pinching mouthfuls of my risotto in the end!
Ayd gunned for the All-in Beef Burger ($20.80), an old-fashioned-styled burger with a huge thick patty and topped with onions, cheese, bacon and an egg.
The patty was so juicy and succulent that Ayd was clearly patronising me with his smile when I interrupted his enjoyment for a photo.
But the heart stopper for me though, has got to be this.
The famed Lamb Shank ($26.80). And behind the lamb's tenderness, tasty mushroom ragout and creamy mash is an adorable love story waiting to be told. It turns out that Chef Ken used this exact same dish to woo his now-wife when he was an assistant chef and she was a student waitress. He was the staff meals so while the rest got fried noodles or rice, the wife got the lamb shank. Well, it clearly worked and I can totally see... I mean, taste why.
I have to say this was easily one of the best lamb dishes I have ever tried. Okay, I love lamb so I may be biased. The wife, on the other hand, is not a fan of lamb due to its sometimes strong and overwhelming taste. But this lamb dish totally changed her perspective as the taste of lamb was never overpowering with the tender meat sliding off the bone with ease.
Chef Ken mentioned that he only prepares the Lamb Shank in small batches so that the high quality of the dish can be up-kept. If you are looking for a good lamb shank, you know what to do!
Oh, and the little ones are not not forgotten either – they can take their pick from Fish & Chips, Chicken n Shrooms Fricassee, Spaghetti Bolognese or Mushroom Cream Sauce Penne. Each Kiddy Meal ($8.80) comes with a drink and scoop of ice cream as well.
Pardon Ale's funny expression. All she wanted to do was to finish her meal fast so that she can continue her book reading at the cosy corner.
Which is great, since it meant that the wifey and I had the Dark Chocolate Lava Cake ($9.80) all to ourselves!
Served with sweet strawberry sauce and vanilla ice cream, this dessert was definitely a hit. The molten chocolate flowed out perfectly when it was sliced open - always a determining factor of a great lava cake! The chocolate tasted rich, but was not too sweet.
The food at Rice & Fries left me hugely impressed but even more so, I was impressed with Chef Ken's extreme dedication to the food he serves to his customers. During a casual chat after our meal, he mentioned that he strives to serve not restaurant-standard, but hotel-standard food at his eatery. Since he is too a father of 3 kids, he makes it a point to only use the best ingredients - and no MSG or artificial flavourings - in his food. He doesn't believe in any short-cuts in cooking as he does not want his customers to feel short-changed.
Oh, and did I mention that all of the menu prices are nett? There are NO service and GST charges so for parents dining out with kids, you will know it is a big deal!
If you are looking for a fuss-free and non-town place with great comfort food at pretty affordable prices, Rice & Fries is as good as it gets. Especially since it is now open earlier during the weekends and public holidays with a Brunch menu too - and I heard the Nasi Lemak is power too!
Rice & Fries
484 Changi Road, Singapore 419896
Opening Hours: Mon, Wed - Fri 11am - 11pm | Sat, Sun & PH 10am - 11pm | Closed on Tuesdays
Tel: 9738 6648