Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and neon lights are what The Rice Box has implemented into its design to give the feel of new-wave Chinatown.
It’s a cool place, the kind that someone may drive by and assume that it’s just one of those new, hip places the young people like to go to spend too much money. But I’ve got news for you, it’s cool and has good food and is inexpensive.
The Rice Box is a simple concept. It’s Chinese-American takeout with bar seating inside and few tables outside. Perfect for good weather days, but on bad weather days or if the place is too busy you might have to go with takeout.
The restaurant may have retired its food truck in 2017, but its food truck classics are still staples on the menu.
I ordered the sesame chicken, which comes with white rice, vegetables and an eggroll. I upgraded to fried rice. I asked the cashier which tea I should order and she recommended the Thai tea on nitro because it tasted like a creamsicle.
She also suggested not using a straw to drink it, I’m guessing because it would change the way I tasted it. On top of the tea was froth that did in fact have a hint of creamsicle, and the straw would have bypassed that.
The weather was perfect, so I opted for outside seating. Luckily, I had arrived right before the lunch crowd, so I got a table easily.
Not long after I sat down my food was delivered. It came in a filled-to-the-brim open takeout box. Instructions on the box showed how you’re supposed to open the box into a plate, and the worker who brought my food offered to show me how.
When I pulled down the sides of the box the rice, vegetables and chicken laid out on top like a small explosion. It was surprising how much food they could fit in the box, because once I had my box converted to a plate I realized I had more food than I could ever eat in one sitting.
The sauce covered everything but seemed a little heavy in the fried rice. I like to take bites with a little bit of everything, so I scooped some rice and vegetables, which were white and green onions and green peppers, along with some chicken on my fork (I haven’t yet gotten the hang of chopsticks, which are provided along with silverware).
The sauce was reddish brown, somewhat thick and a little sweet, but not at all overpowering. With sesame seeds on top it was really good. The rice was a mountain beneath the chicken, so I only made a dent in it, but it complemented the chicken nicely. Bean sprouts mixed in is always one of my favorite parts of fried rice.
By the time I was done eating — and completely stuffed — I still had enough food on my plate that it looked like I barely ate any. When an employee came by to check on me, she brought a to-go box and even offered to pack it up for me.
The leftovers filled the box and I left happy, knowing I got at least two meals for the price of one.
The Rice Box
Address: 300 W. 20th St.
Hours: 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sunday–Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday
Healthy Options: No
Star of the show: Sesame chicken