By HANNAH TURNER
As you get closer to the Mooloolaba Wharf, you can hear the hustle and bustle of popular restaurants and bars full of people smiling, dressed up in their best casual wear, choosing which place they want to try tonight. The most popular restaurant of them all has a line so long you can’t see the entry from the back. The 45-minute wait ‘better be worth it’, the group behind us mutters.
It was. It really was.
Rice Boi: a piece of the Tokyo backstreets transported to the Sunshine Coast. And it is loved for having made the journey.
Finally at the beginning of the line, you are escorted you to your table. It’s a gamble between three seating areas: A sepia-lit outdoor space, a Japanese inspired dive bar upstairs or where we got put, the bustling downstairs section.
The atmosphere is bouncing. House and pop music play through the speakers, accompanying the loud chatter of excited patrons finally able to order their meal. You feel like you’re in a bar in the backstreets of Tokyo, graffiti street art lines the walls lit up by neon lights.
It’s an industrial wonderland. The stainless-steel tables look like welding benches, there’s an open pantry on one side of the room and scaffolding with plants hanging off it on the other.
The staff greet us with a friendly smile, and we can see them run around the open kitchen dodging steam coming off the hot pans.
A sign by the bar encourages you to “buy more booze”.
The food exceeds expectations. The pork buns ($10) are a delicate balance between sweet and spicy. The fried shallots add a crunch to the soft buns and the pork melts in your mouth. The Thai chilli jam gives it a kick of spicy flavour.
The BBQ ocean trout in banana leaf ($26) is a highlight. The fish has been marinated in a red curry paste and dances with the coconut flavours. The rice cools your mouth down when the spice kicks in and then you go back for more.
To wash it all down, a selection of cocktails, beers and bubble tea tempts you. The mango and strawberry bubble tea is sickly sweet yet addictive. The strawberry flavoured bubbles explode and delicately pop in your mouth, cooling the spicy flavour of the food from your palate.
Despite having only one choice of tap beer and not being able to book a table to avoid the long queue, Rice Boi has me waiting until I get paid so I can go back again.
Address: The Wharf Mooloolaba 123 Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba Qld 4557 | Phone: (07) 5444 1297
Web: https://riceboi.com.au |Hours: Everyday 11:30am until late |Typical prices: Between $10 and $26 for a main meal | Summary: Exciting and delicious | Rating: 4 out of 5