Saturday, 24 October 2009

Rice Paddy

I go out of my way to support neighbourhood restaurants, so after seeing a few ads for the Rice Paddy in our local newspaper, we popped in for dinner on the weekend.

The Rice Paddy is in a fairly innocuous block of shops on South Pine Road at Everton Park. If you didn't know it was there, you'd probably drive right past it - luckily we were looking out for it. The main reason I wanted to visit was because there were dishes on the menu that were different from the regulars you usually come across at suburban Thai restaurants around Brisbane.

We arrived to be greeted by a couple of friendly staff, who showed us to our table. We were offered menus straight away, and two glasses of water were brought to the table. A wine cooler was brought out in a stand next to the table, with plenty of ice, and two glasses of wine were poured. By this stage, we felt very welcome.

The entrees didn't jump off the menu at me, so I ordered satay chicken, my favourite Thai starter. Other entree choices include vegetarian spring rolls, golden bags (rice pastry filled with stir fried chicken, coconut, corn & oyster sauce), fish cakes and Thai dippings (roti pastry served with chilli jam and satay sauce).

When I saw the size of my four satay chicken skewers, I was very concerned about how I would ever finish my main course. They were four very generous satay skewers, with plenty of chicken. Although a couple of bits of the chicken were a little gristly, they were otherwise tender, properly cooked and covered in plenty of Thai peanut sauce. Even though I didn't need to eat them all, they disappeared off the plate.

We also ordered a serve of the crispy tofu. These were little squares of tofu that had been deep fried and served with a peanut chilli sauce. When this dish arrived at the table it was obvious that it had only just come out of the deep fryer. The outside of the tofu was beautifully crisp, while the inside was still delicate and soft - they'd been perfectly cooked. I've had some great tofu dishes recently and this is another very impressive one (they were also great to dip into my satay sauce).

If none of the entrees are your bag, order a soup instead - tom yum (lemongrass, mushroom, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice and chilli) or tom kha (coconut cream with lemon juice, mushroom, galangal and chilli). Each of the soups can be served with chicken, king prawns, seafood or vegetable & tofu.

Main course is where the menu gets more interesting. I went straight to the house specials, which include stir fried fish with ginger, duck garden, chicken kaffir lime leaves, king prawns tamarind, king prawns clay pot (sauteed king prawns with glass noodles, fresh ginger, black peppercorn and sesame sauce) and crying tiger (BBQ beef marinated with Thai herbs & oyster sauce, served with crushed roasted rice and spicy & sour sauce).

There were also some eye catching salads, like the lime pork salad (spicy pork cooked in lime sauce mixed with fresh vegetables), Rice Paddy golden salad (fresh salad greens with tofu and boiled egg served with peanut sauce and crispy sweet potato) and the prawn salad (cooked fresh prawns with lemon juice, fresh herbs and seasoned with chilli & lime dressing). I'll have to go back for the salads.

As much as I loved the sound of the crying tiger and the salads, I opted for the duck garden, thinking it might be presented in some very impressive fashion. Although there was no magical presentation, no-one would be disappointed by the size of the serving - it was huge. Unlike some duck dishes at Asian restaurants, this one was full of tender duck pieces. There were also plenty of vegetables - zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, carrot, sweetcorn, celery and cauliflower. While there was a distinct sesame flavour to the sauce, it didn't overpower the duck. A good (but not great) dish.

My wife ordered the stir fried vegetable & tofu with basil and chilli. As soon as it hit the table I could smell the amazing aromas of Thai basil. I only had a quick taste, but it was a lovely dish. The sauce was excellent - a bit of chilli kick complemented by the fragrant Thai basil. Plenty of vegetables and some more well-cooked tofu rounded off a delicious dish.

There are numerous other main courses, many of which you will find at your local suburban Thai restaurant - red, green, panang, massaman, yellow and chu chee curries, together with ten or so stir fry dishes. Most of main courses can be prepared with tofu and vegetables, so there are loads of options for non-meat eaters.

We both had so much of our main courses left that we asked for a couple of take away containers, not wanting to waste the food. The staff happily obliged and packaged them up with the coconut rice we didn't manage to eat either.

Service was terrific and friendly throughout the night. Our waitress happily re-filled my wine glass continually (which is almost unheard of at a BYO restaurant) and we were never short of water on the table. There was a good, comfortable space between courses, which we really needed because of the amount of food. All up our dinner was $55 (which included a Thai style iced tea), so it was a great value meal.

Although I wouldn't say the Rice Paddy is the best Thai food I've ever had, its a solid suburban Thai restaurant that I'll happily return to, so I can explore the rest of the menu.

What does all this mean? Well priced, tasty Thai food with very friendly service. Worth a visit to try interesting Thai dishes you don't often see around Brisbane.

food bling ratings
Food - Good
Service - Great
Ambience - Casual suburban restaurant, with Thai decorations
Value for Money - Great
Wine - BYO
Vegetarian - Great

Rice Paddy
Shop 5, 544 South Pine Road
Everton Park 4058
P - 07 3162 5219

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