Rice Armonk: Rice is Nice
Alex Lee, of Made In Asia, has done it again. This time with the help of his partner, Armonk resident, Jenny Tang. Mr. Lee and Ms. Tang have converted a hole in the wall Chinese take-out in Elide Plaza into a pan-Asian gem that has a spa-like look and feel and a hip Singapore vibe.
Inside Rice Armonk, the walls, ceilings and tablecloths present a harmonious white matte presence that is subdued and makes this intimate 28 seater feel larger than it is. The wainscoting and 3-D geometric designs on the wall play off the tin ceilings to create a multi-textured harmony in white that is accented by the dark wood floors.
In keeping with the ambience, the jazz playlist selected by Ms. Tang’s daughter Fadima (a BHHS senior who takes her deejaying very seriously) was set at spa-level decibels. Ordering our food, we couldn’t fight the expectations that someone was going to bring us lemon water and white robes, and lead us off for a hot stone therapy massage while our food was being prepared.
Even the food has a spa-like quality to it. As Ms. Tang told us, every dish is individually bamboo steamed, braised or stir fried in light oils and delicate sauces like oyster sauce, minced garlic or xo chile sauce – then elegantly plated in, you guessed it, white bowls.
The menu tips its hat to the lost art, in this country, of simple Cantonese style cooking with rice and noodle dishes like yong chow fried rice and beef chow fun; traditional entrees such as Peking duck, Imperial bird’s nest with chicken and cashew, sweet and sour pork with pineapple; and some seriously good dim sum small plates. If you’re dropping by after your Zumba class you can find a host of salads on the menu that won’t upset your personal trainer, like the Alaskan king crab salad pictured above.
But Alex and Jenny couldn’t resist bringing the heat from some of the other provinces so spice worshippers will be happy to find dishes like spicy prawns with lily bulb and almond, Szechwan mapo tofu, and crispy beef with orange (that will blow your head off.)
When we were there, we started with the organic jasmine tea, chicken and flying fish roe shu mai, prawn har gow with bamboo shoots, and the honey-glazed barbeque pork bun – that is a must to try. We also liked the traditional braised halibut cubes with golden garlic, shredded rainbow chicken and the crispy beef with orange.
For those of you who fancy Mr. Lee’s Made In Asia, the portions at Rice are a bit on the nouvelle side and the prices a half-smidge higher. But Rice offers a great date-night Asian experience that is unique in our area, making this one an easy addition to What To Do’s list of notable noshes nearby. Props to Jenny and Alex. Rice is nice. (Rice, 111 Bedford Rd., Armonk, 914.273.3880; Ricearmonk.com)
For more random postings of culinary interest check out our What To Eat: Checklist.