Usually I don't place much emphasis on the drinks at a restaurant: let's face it, I'm Asian and chances are that water is good enough for me! However, glancing at the menu at Rice Bowl Deluxe, I spied a neat little section for bubble teas and juices! And of course, having just written a blog post on Bubble Buzz, I was intrigued to get bubble tea again - I mean the whole point is to compare them and see how they fare against each other, right? A fight to the death it is! ... Not really, but anyways, following the manager's recommendation, I decided to go with the watermelon juice and the mango bubble tea for my friend. Honestly speaking, the watermelon juice was phenomenal! I was floored by the presence of the drink: I felt like the servers at Rice Bowl Deluxe had somehow managed to magically cram a whole watermelon into the cup! As for the mango bubble tea, it was also fairly decent - milky, great bubbles and delicious - but nowhere near as impressive as the watermelon. Still though, I would definitely rate this as one of the best bubble tea's I've had, easily amongst the top in Edmonton. A so-called "best in the west!"
After the bubble tea, we settled into a couple of their cozy wooden booths (I must say, the interior decor simply screams crisp, clean and modern!) before picking a couple of jumbo coconut shrimp as appetizers. Large and succulent, the shrimp were flavourful but a shade on the dark side - I couldn't help but think they were a tad over-fried (it could also be the panko breading) or not in fresh oil - they were missing the characteristic golden brown presentation of perfectly fried food. As for the accompanying curry, it wasn't too strong or spicy but for a spice-novice, I still found it pretty good!
Next up were a pair of rice bowls. Tantalizingly aromatic, I couldn't wait to dig in! To my surprise, they had even separated a section for the vegetables (which, by the way, had great variety: carrots, bean sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, AND mushrooms!) and meat to keep them apart from the rice! Simple yet practical, the rice stays insulated - hot and steamy - underneath the meat and veggies but is immune to the runoff and from getting soggy! Ingenious; bonus points for the small details! Unfortunately though, the focus point of the dishes, the meats - Chicken Teriyaki and Japanese New York Steak - were less than impressive. Although the chicken was well crisped, the sauce tasted generic (reminded me of Tokyo Express) and lacked the subtle sweetness crucial for a good Teriyaki; whereas it was the exact opposite in the beef, the meat lacked any real flavour but the sesame sauce was delicious!
To wrap off the night, we polished off a chocolate mousse and wow, that little cup packs a punch! For what you would expect to be a light and airy dessert, instead, the mousse was extremely rich and dense (think chocolate mousse meets cheesecake)! Ultimately, I think this comes down to personal preference, chocolate lovers will love the deep and satisfying Bernard Callebaut chocolate whereas others may find it too heavy for their taste. You know yourself best and I'll leave the decision up to you when you go!
Fortunately for us, we were also privy to a pre-release sampler of their upcoming green tea yogurt! While I can't confirm that it will be the same as the final product, let me tell you, I cannot be more excited for this item to hit the menu! What rolled out of the kitchen that night was simply heavenly: The green tea was tangible and the yogurt quality gave it a smooth-ness that was leagues above what normal green tea ice cream tastes like. Just look!
Overall, with more dishes and flavours planned down the road and a little streamlining (keep in mind they've only been open a few months!) I can definitely see a bright future for this little restaurant on the west side -- I would definitely keep posted!
The Verdict (!): 80/100