Melbourne's Chinatown. Dining solo. Looking for cheap and cheerful. So many choices.
Fortunately, I choose right tonight, discovering the Rice Workshops chain.
It's basic in the extreme. You stand in a queue to make your order, move along the line to pay, then seek a vacant stool at which to eat.
I order a spicy chicken karaage; crunchy lightly battered chicken pieces served in a big bowl with spicy mayo, steamed rice, salad and crisp pickled vegetables.
The large portion is hearty, the chicken crisp on the outside, moist inside and mayo tangy and moorish.
A soft drink costs $2.60, Japanese beer a little more. You help yourself to plastic forks and spoons, chopsticks, various sauces and chilled water.
Should you still have room for dessert, some green tea soft serve costs $2 or is free if you can show a student card.
My dish was surprisingly good; better than at a number of far more expensive eateries.
Other rice, curry and udon noodles options include kimchi beef, chicken katsi curry, and tempura prawn udon, all available for under a tenner.
Any snack (think spring rolls, pork gyoza or a spicy squid skewer) is $2.50 or $3.90 with a can of soft drink.
So tasty Japanese-accented food, fast service and a studenty ambience. Who'd have thunk it from a chain with a dozen or more outlets.
Check out the Chinatown outlet. I was impressed. Hopefully you will be, too.
Rice Workshop, 238 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000.