Located at the "top of the hill" on Manor Drive, offers a variety of ways to get your Chinese food fix. Whether it's eaten at the restaurant, delivered to your home or taken out, the food is bountiful and piping hot.
Having worked near San Francisco's Chinatown for a few years, I was introduced to a host of quality dishes ranging from chicken feet to Peking dust. Here in Pacifica, I was quite disappointed when I realized I would have to sacrifice that quality if I had a small budget to work with. Luckily, that changed when Rice N Roll came into town.
My family and I heard of Rice N Roll by way of a menu left at our door. We called for delivery and ordered what we call the four elements: sizzling rice soup, sweet and sour prawns, fried rice and broccoli beef. The banquet housemen at my old job near Chinatown said that it’s really hard to mess these dishes up and if someone does, you have a very bad cook.
It’s difficult to get that sizzling effect from the rice soup unless you dine in, but Rice N Roll managed to keep a little of that magic going via a quick delivery. We also found that the broth was much clearer and consistent than most we've had and the spices had been allowed to simmer and infuse the soup with a fragrant bouquet.
The sweet and sour prawns were lightly breaded and drizzled (not soaked) with a delicate sweet and sour sauce. There was nothing cloying, syrupy or gelatinous about the sauce. Of all the local sweet and sour sauces I’ve tried, this one is close to my ideal.
Fried rice, in general, is my youngest child’s favorite dish. The portion delivered was extremely generous and made for a great packed lunch option the next day.
Rice N Roll makes their broccoli beef in quintessential Chinese fashion: the flavors of the individual components of the dish stand out but compliment one another. The broccoli is not overcooked; it's crisp on the outside and tender within. The beef is thin and carries the flavors of the oyster sauce and soy without losing its own. It's apparent that Rice N Roll takes the time to prepare its sauces well, and this dish is a testament. Not too salty and no MSG.
Rice N Roll's website is very clear about when delivery service starts and what the minimum order is for delivery, but what I did not like about it is that it doesn’t follow a very logical process from selecting a dish to actually ordering it. You have to click on an item in one side-bar and then click again on that item to get a detailed screen showing quantity, price, and special instructions.
If you are not familiar with Chinese cuisine or specific items, there is no way to get a sense of what ingredients are being used in the food you are ordering.
Also, while it is stated online that opening an account with Rice N Roll affords you the added benefit of special coupon offers, I have never received a single offer by email. I have only had access to the offers on the printed menu that came with my last order. I would only use the online ordering process if there were an incentive to do so and so far, I have seen none. Calling in is about as easy as it gets.
Rice N Roll’s dine-in atmosphere is quaint and contemporary with a touch of the provincial.
As you walk in, you are immediately faced with a rather large --a symbol of good luck in Chinese culture. The staff is on point and ready to seat you upon arrival, so if you’re ordering take out, be sure to say so right away.
Tea service is complimentary and while the tables are all uniform, it seems each table is assigned its own color and style of teapot and cups.
When we dined in, we began with our typical order of sizzling rice soup and being so fresh, it was a lively one accompanied by a theatrical ladling from the server. This was followed by a combination appetizer plate--of items we did not order: Pork potstickers, buffalo wings, crab rangoons, and spring rolls. All were deep-fried and delicious, and this is the first time that there was a mistake on any of our orders. The server was so eager about presenting each item with flair, however, that we decided to treat the gaff like an adventure and go with it. I still want to try the Dim Sum Combination Plate, which we ordered. It consists of shrimp dumplings, pork buns and Siu Mai.
Next were the “white food delights”, which were Singapore-style rice noodles and salt and pepper tofu. If you are a fan of jalapeño poppers, I think you will find the salt and pepper tofu to your liking. Once you start eating them, you can’t stop.
Overall, we had to learn the art of patience while dining in at Rice N Roll. Everything we ordered smelled so good that you just want to dig right in, but you really should wait for the dishes to cool down a bit before doing so. Otherwise, you can all too easily get a scalded tongue.
Since parking is limited to two spots in a shared lot, don’t expect to find a space there. There is ample street parking, however.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5