You’ll have to battle the CBD lunch crowds to get your hands on the Soldiers at Roll’d, as the queues are known to snake all the way down Goldsbrough Lane. The Soldiers, Roll’d’s moniker for rice paper rolls, arrive with barbecued chicken and sesame seeds or fragrant lemongrass pork and prawn ($2.60 or $3.40 each). Wash it all down with an iced tea – peach or lemon – for only $1.50. The price alone will give you no reason to doubt why this place is so popular. Pro tip: at the Goldsbrough Lane location, there is a line for customers who want just Soldiers and can pay with cash. It moves double-time.
The beauty of the DIY rolls at Chin Chin is exactly that – you get to choose what you roll with. These rolls are delivered to your table unassembled on a platter filled with crispy fried tofu, crunchy raw vegetables and a spicy peanut relish. Chin Chin is a melting pot for Asian cuisine and these rolls are no exception. Indeed, they’re more like a Peking duck pancake than paltry rice paper sheet. While you’re already rolling, it would be a mistake to not check out the DIY pork ‘roll ups’, which you can fill with suckling pig, fresh Asian slaw and herbs. By now we don’t need to tell you to get in early and be prepared to wait for a table, along with half of Melbourne.
A nod to their yum cha cousins, the rolls at Coda are filled with sweet, sticky char siu pork and served with a crunchy peanut hoisin sauce that’s rich in colour and flavour. These rolls are as slick as their industrial-chic setting; you won’t find any design references to street food roots here. Enjoy these rolls with a glass of white at the bar and watch the chefs in action. Also worth trying are the crispy Hà N?i style rice paper rolls, served piping hot with jicama (Mexican turnip, in case you were wondering) and nuoc mam dipping sauce.
With the mantra: ‘Sex, drugs and rice paper rolls’, it’s hard not to let the rice paper rolls at Hanoi Hannah grab your attention. Falling under the title ‘I am gonna roll ya’, the rolls on the menu here pack a serious punch and might come filled with Thai basil, char-grilled chicken and peanuts, or cured salmon and tart green mango. Hanoi Hannah draws a young, hip crowd thanks to its affordable prices location just off Chapel Street. If you’d rather a night in, Hanoi Hannah does takeaway, which you can order via her very own App. We’re telling you, she’s a classy lady.
Looking as if they might scuttle right off your plate at any moment, the soft shell crab and avocado rolls at Dandelion are all about the crunch. Iceberg lettuce, crispy crab legs and carrot are rolled together into delicious mouthfuls, served sliced and upright, just like the rice paper roll’s Japanese counterpart, the nori roll. Mrs T’s magical sauce, a light, sweet and sour dipping sauce, gives the rolls just the right about of kick. And because you’re sharing, you’d also better try the coconut-roasted rock lobster and rambutan rolls. Upmarket flavours and a modern interior make Dandelion the perfect setting for nouveau Vietnamese cuisine.
Phat on taste, phat on filling – Tom Phat is a popular destination on Sydney Road for Thai fusion food, meaning rice paper rolls (although traditionally Vietnamese) appear on the menu too. Packed with tender roast pork, just-warm vermicelli noodles and iceberg lettuce, the rolls come served with hoisin sauce and a dose of cool. Tom Phat is the type of place where you can sit back and enjoy your meal with a coffee and a newspaper, and watch shoppers wandering by on Sydney Road.
You thought we were going to leave out misschu? We wouldn’t dream of leaving out Melbourne’s self-proclaimed ‘Rice Paper Roll Queen’ (or we might just be a bit afraid to). Since 2005 Nahji Chu, the woman behind misschu, has held her reign over these Vietnamese hawker treats, first in Sydney and now with two locations in Melbourne too. Fillings include roasted duck and banana flower, as well as egg omelet, avocado, and balsamic caramelised onion. The rolls are cheap, fresh and entirely tongue-in-cheek like everything else at misschu. You can even have your rolls delivered via motorbikes stamped with the slogan “You ling, we bling.” Who said rice paper rolls had to be serious?
297 Exhibition Street, CBD
03 9077 1097
276 Toorak Road, South Yarra
03 9041 5848