Spicy combinations

A date with my husband. This isn’t something that happens very often. Working and going to school full- time doesn’t leave much time for other things (like each other) but at least once a month we try to go out to spend a romantic evening together. One Saturday we decided to throw homework to the wind and head out for a nice dinner. Now, Scott and I aren’t the most decisive people, so we ended up driving around in the cold for about 45 minutes before finally agreeing to try Rickshaw’s Fine Asian Bistro on South Virginia Street.

Rickshaw’s turned out to be exactly what we were looking for—a romantic, quiet atmosphere. There were only about 20 or so booths and the soft candlelight coming from each provided a relaxing environment. We were seated right away, and our waiter was there promptly to take our drink orders. As we looked over the menu, I knew that I was going to have a hard time deciding what to order. Not only did they have an extensive menu, but they also had a lot of unique dishes that sounded appealing.

The Hong Kong walnut shrimp was grabbing my attention, as well as the mango beef. After a 20-minute debate, I finally settled on the sizzling rice soup ($6.50) as an appetizer because it sounded so nice and warm, and the Malaysian chicken ($10.95) as an entree. Scott chose the Vietnamese rolls ($6.50) and the Hunan crispy salmon ($12.95).

Scott’s rolls arrived first, and I was surprised by how much I liked them. With other Vietnamese rolls I have tasted, one ingredient seems to overpower the rest. That was not the case at Rickshaw’s. The fresh rolls had the right combination of pork and prawns, along with light rice noodles, mint and basil. The spicy peanut dipping sauce provided a slightly sweet flavor that went great with the rolls.

My sizzling rice soup certainly lived up to its name. With one swoop, the waiter dumped a small plate of rice into the soup and the whole bowl started to sizzle. In addition to the rice, the soup also contained large pieces of chicken, shrimp, carrots, mushrooms, snow peas and green onions. It was a nice way to warm up from the cold outside.

However much the appetizers impressed me, my Malaysian chicken was better. The bowl contained large pieces of chicken braised in a yellow curry sauce and mixed with sweet onions and coconut milk. I am huge fan of sweet and spicy flavors, so I asked my dish to be served slightly hotter than normal. I wasn’t disappointed. The sweet and spicy flavors blended together perfectly for an absolutely delicious result. There were four condiments on the side: raisins, coconut flakes, finely chopped peanuts and chutney. At first, I was leery about dumping all of them in, but after one taste I added everything but the chutney. The raisins provided a cool sweet taste to the dish, while the coconut flakes and peanuts enhanced the flavor of the warm coconut milk.

Scott’s Hunan crispy salmon was served on a bed of chilled noodles, topped with a hot and spicy sauce, and surrounded by pineapple, onions and bell peppers. Scott liked it.

Overall, we had a great time at Rickshaw’s. The food was excellent and took center stage, and the service and atmosphere complemented the cuisine perfectly. It was just what we were looking for—a chance to remind ourselves that sometimes you have to take time for each other.