This week, Monica and I visited our favorite Asian restaurant in the city, the always-reliable Rice Boxx at 3600 Hixson Pike. Located next to Jet’s Pizza, Dollar General and Diamond Billiard Club (try the wings), Rice Boxx is an easy takeout or dine-in option for our lazy nights away from the kitchen. And it doesn’t hurt that the food is pretty damn good, too.
When Monica and I haggle over what to eat for dinner, we often compromise with Rice Boxx. The menu is so extensive-with many Asian cuisines offered-that we can both satisfy our cravings with wildly different dinner options. For example, I might have a big plate of sushi and she might order pad thai. I might be craving a cup of soup and she can have a glass of wine and a plate of hibachi steak and rice. Rice Boxx also has some of the most delicious Asian hot pots, which are enormous for the price.
In September, I wrote about my five favorite places to get sushi. The list was intended to be culled from previous Date Night Dining articles, but I quickly noticed that somehow I’d never written about Rice Boxx for the column before. That happened with my other favorite Chattanooga establishment-Mojo Burrito-that somehow I just . forget to write about my favorites.
Monica had to remind me again Wednesday night that I’d never written about Rice Boxx. I double-checked the website, too. Let’s change that now.
We arrived following a disastrous trip to Bargain Hunt in which we left with none of our intended purchases because the credit card system was down. The meal started as a bit of a stress eat situation for us. But the calming instrumental music and a sip of egg drop soup helped settle our stress level a bit. Our server, Lori, was wonderful. She affected a strange British accent throughout the meal that wavered in and out, but I found it endearing.
Through the use of strategically placed mirrors, Rice Boxx appears much larger than the shoebox it is. A majority of booths were occupied on this night, and several people were waiting for takeout at the front. The restaurant seems constantly busy, which is not a surprise at all. Overall, the décor is typical of most Asian restaurants, although I consider Rice Boxx to be a bit more elegant than, say, a No. 1 Chinese or one of the myriad Asian buffets. I’d take a date here, in other words.
Monica drank water and I ordered an unsweet tea. The restaurant serves wine, beer, liquor and sake as well. We started the evening with egg drop soup with fried wonton.
It would take years to try everything on the Rice Boxx menu. More often than not, I’ll order one of the following: hibachi steak, coconut chicken, hibachi fried rice, a hot pot or a big plate of sushi. Monica enjoys sushi (sans avocado) and many of the Thai-inspired dishes like pad thai, along with any of the hibachi-style foods.
The egg drop soup was lovely, as always. If you’re not a fan of eggy foods, the wonton soup might be a good option. Or, if you’re feeling extra-feisty, the tom yum soup is a version of the classic coconut milk-based comfort food. I always start with a soup.
Monica and I ordered a couple of our favorites. There was no need to get outside our comfort zones, nor was there a desire to. I ordered a plate of hibachi steak and shrimp, the classic surf and turf combo that doesn’t get simpler. Monica ordered the pad thai, which is the quintessential entry point for those new to Thai cuisine. It’s eggy, slightly sweet and spicy, with a nice crunch from the peanuts sprinkled on top.
My hibachi steak/shrimp combo was great. One of the aspects of Rice Boxx is their portion sizes. Although they offer plenty of food, my plate was well-portioned with vegetables. I also ordered brown rice to stay a bit healthier, but then I slathered everything in gooey shrimp sauce, canceling out any positive health benefits. Both of us had enough food remaining to take for lunch the next day. And, really, is there anything better than leftovers from your favorite Asian restaurant?
I asked Monica what she wanted to have for dessert. “Whatever you want,” she told me. So I ordered green tea ice cream with whipped cream and cherry/chocolate sauces. Monica later told me that she “didn’t like green tea.” OK. I ate the majority of the dessert by myself-which was possibly her intention-and I thought it was wonderful. I might ask for less sauce and whipped cream next time. By the end, it looked like a crime scene on the plate, but it was delicious.
Would we go back?
Rice Boxx is my favorite Asian restaurant in Chattanooga. The food is consistently delicious, the prices reasonable and the staff friendly. It’s also close to both my downtown apartment and Monica’s house in Red Bank. Rice Boxx has become our default restaurant, and I’ll bet many of you feel the same. We’ll definitely be back.
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