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Rice Bowl Restaurant – Sargent Avenue

The Rice Bowl building is one of the many non-descript types of buildings that dot the West End. Like so many of those buildings…

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been making a habit of revisiting restaurants that I haven’t been to in the last half-dozen years or so. One of these places in the West End, is Rice Bowl Restaurant on Sargent Avenue.

The Rice Bowl building is one of the many non-descript types of buildings that dot the West End. Like so many of those buildings, the unassuming exterior hides a vibrant interior.

Rice Bowl Crispy Bata
The Crispy Pata with Pork Belly from Rice bowl.

Rice Bowl advertises itself as a Filipino, Vietnamese, and Chinese restaurant. While I have tried and enjoyed all three in the past, I mainly concentrated on the Filipino dishes on my last couple of dishes.

There is one menu item that I haven’t tried. This is the Rice Bowl Rice Toppers. These are a $5.00 weekday lunch special. That’s the recent I haven’t tried them, I’m not in the area during the time they are on offer. However, if the rest of the menu is any indication, I think they might be one of the best restaurant values in the city.

spring rolls
A starter order of spring rolls.

On my first visit, it was getting close to closing time. That meant that there weren’t too many people in the restaurant when I got there. The restaurant doesn’t have a huge amount of seating, but it is nice, cozy, as well as being well-spaced out.

I am a meat lover, and as I looked over the menu. I noticed the Crispy Pata. Crispy Pata is a pork hock, that has been boiled and then deep-fried. This results in skin that is crispy and crunchy. As well, the meat is moist and tender. The dish I ordered, is a deluxe version that features the Pata served on Pork Belly.

Side dish of rice
A hefty side dish of rice from Rice Bowl restaurant.

I also ordered an order of spring rolls. These were good and crunchy and well filled. I decided to also order some rice. I didn’t know what portion size of rice I was getting, but it came in a small serving bowl. I ended up with enough food, to take some home and have a second meal out of my order.

I returned a few days later, and decided to order a wonton soup, along with Chicken Miki Bihon. The latter is a mixture of rice sticks, and Shanghai noodles, along with the chicken and vegetables.

deluxe wonton soup
This wonton soup comes fully loaded with all kinds of good ingredients.

When I ordered the soup, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Wonton soups can run from being mainly broth to the being mainly solids. This soup is definitely in the latter category. There were several large wontons, and they were all well stuffed and well seasoned.

This is the kind of soup that would make an ideal lunch dish. Large enough to be satisfying, and containing a good mix of noodles, vegetables, and meat.

Chicken Mihi Bihon
A very enjoyable Chicken Mihi Bihon.

The Chicken Miki Bihon was also really enjoyable. There was a lot of chicken in the dish, and the pieces were mixed in well. I liked the contrast in texture between the rice sticks and Shanghai Noodles. There was enough food to make finishing it a bit of a challenge, but not having ate much earlier in the day, I polished it all off.

The service was good and friendly. They served my soup first, and then followed it up with the Chicken Miki Bihon. As there was so much food, I just stuck with water for my beverage.

Take the time to visit Rice Bowl. It has great food, with several really good bargains as well.

Original Rice Bowl Review

One thing about reviewing restaurants is I often find myself no longer stopping at places I had once visited. The algorithms constantly demand new and fresh material, and so places, such as Rice Bowl, on Sargent become places I used to visit.

However, recently I decided I wanted to visit there again after a few years absence. Unfortunately, although I’ve paid three visits over the last couple of weeks or so, my camera acted up and I only have two photos total to show for three visits.

Rice Bowl Lumpia Shanghai
Lumpia Shanghai from Rice Bowl.

Rice Bowl is a unprepossessing little building. Stepping inside, the decor is also very basic. However, there are plenty of seats, and on all three visits, I had no trouble finding a place to sit.

Vietnamese at Rice Bowl

Rice Bowl advertises itself as Filipino, Vietnamese, and Chinese dining. On my first visit, I ordered a couple of Veggie Spring Rolls and the Deluxe Pho. The spring rolls are quite nice, and the Pho had a richer broth than many I’ve tried. On the whole it was a quite pleasant lunch, but nothing overly remarkable.

Two Filipino Meals:

The next two visits I paid, I ordered Filipino dishes. Other than the egg rolls, I didn’t attempt any of the Chinese dishes. On my second visit I ordered the Caldereta(beef stew), again with egg rolls. The Caldereta was a delight. The beef came in four large chunks. I hadn’t received a knife with my cutlery, but didn’t need one as the beef was fork tender and came away easily in bite size portions.

The gravy was rich, and there was a good mixture of well cooked vegetables. The only slight disappointment was that on this occasion the Veggie Spring Rolls weren’t hot 100% of the way through.

My third trip, I chose the Lumpia Shanghai for a starter. These came in a large portion with the typical sweet chili sauce for dipping. The Lumpia were good and crispy with a good, savoury filling.

For my main I ordered the Vietnamese Ribs found on the menu. I learned after ordering that the Vietnamese Ribs are on the menu in name only and are not being offered anymore. I took the menu back and after giving it a desultory look over, I decided to take my server’s advice and order the BBQ Beef Ribs as well.

I don’t know what the Vietnamese Ribs are supposed to taste like, but I can’t imagine them being any better than the BBQ Beef RIbs. The beef itself is cooked extremely well, and the char mixed with the sweet sauce gives the ribs a great flavour balance. There were lots of little ribs on the plate, which helped to slow down my eating process.

Rice Bowl BBQ Beef Ribs
Delectable BBQ Beef Ribs from Rice Bowl.

The ribs are served on rice with stir-fried vegetables. The vegetables were cooked tender-crisp, and came in a great variety. In a rare case for such a stir-fry the carrots were in the minority with plenty of broccoli, peppers, and ever a bit of cauliflower in the mix.

It was a good thing I was eating late in the afternoon after not having much to eat during the day. My two item order could easily have fed two people.

One thing I’d like to see is a better drink selection. Despite advertising Vietnamese as one of their cuisines, there is no Vietnamese Coffee on the menu, The beverages seemed limited to canned pop and Jasmine/Green tea.

Service here is very good. The staff is not only prompt, but they are friendly and enthusiastic in their service. I’d suggest trying the Filipino section of the menu first, you can’t go wrong with that. I’m definitely going to be finding my way back to RIce Bowl, at least when I’m not feeding the algorithms.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.