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The Dish: Rice Station

Rice Station

742 Dacula Road, Dacula

770-822-9999

Open since: November

Location: Rice Station takes up the large corner space in the new shopping center at 742 Dacula Road

Hours: Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and dinner is offered from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday

Owner: Rice Station is owned by David Tan, a 25-year resident of the United States. In his native Taiwan, Tan was a civil engineer.

Atmosphere: Rice Station is a tastefully designed and decorated restaurant blending both American and Asian influences. Warm colors and clean lines invite diners to relax and enjoy a wonderfully prepared meal. Curved booths set into a long wall are both attractive and comfortable, and much of the woodwork in the restaurant is hand-hewn and custom fitted. A film screen over the Hibachi station rolls travel footage from China, the opening ceremonies from this year's summer Olympics, pictures of the Great Wall and many other eastern cultural highlights. A fountain greets guests at the entrance.

Menu: Rice Station offers up surprisingly sophisticated sushi, sashimi and tempura, as well as both favorite and unusual Chinese dishes. The five-star sushi chef will prepare sushi at a diner's specific request, garnishing with kiwi, mango, roe and other specialty accents. On Sundays, the hibachi station rolls away to be replaced by a well-stocked and very reasonably priced buffet. Soon, diners will be able to dine on Korean barbecue, already a favorite dish in this region with Southerners raised on good barbecue.

A trip of very tasty wines - plum, raspberry and ginseng - are offered in smaller bottles, just enough for two.

"When customers finish their wine, they take home the bottle because it's so pretty," Tan said.

If you're not sure which wine would best complement your meal, or if you'd just like to taste wines that are difficult to find elsewhere, order the wine sampler for less than $6. Domestic beer and even a Korean beer are also available.

Be sure to order the bento, which is Japanese for "box." The bento offers four separate dishes in one box, or divided plate. The sushi bento features sushi, a California roll, a shrimp tempura roll and a delicious salad, $7.50 during lunch. There are also sashimi bento, sushi and sashimi bento, sushi and tempura bento and bulgoki bento (with a special Korean sauce). All five bento offerings are $7.50 during lunch.

Things you might not know: Tan traveled to Japan to learn about both design techniques and high-end food preparation. His restaurant reflects that passion. He prides himself on offering fresh, top-quality food at very reasonable prices. Daily lunch specials are $4.29 (dine-in only), and the specials change from day to day. Dinner entrees range from $6.59 to $13.99.

SideBar: On the menu

Lunch - Bulgoki bento: Korean-style marinated beef or chicken served with rice and an egg roll $7.50 (beef) or $6.50 (chicken)

Dinner for four people: Mongolian beef, sweet and sour chicken, shrimp with vegetables, mu shu pork, sizzling rice soup, egg rolls, steamed rice and fortune cookies $41.75