Friday, February 13, 2015

Lunch at Rice Paper Scissors

Rice Paper Scissors
Level 1, Gourmet Food Court, Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, Indooroopilly

As someone who not only loves food but loves a wide variety of food, it's hard to pinpoint any cuisine that I could call 'regular'. If I was forced to choose one, I would say that Vietnamese is the best fit. It's the type of cuisine that I most often return to when I feel like something simple mid-week. Vietnamese cuisine is clean, flavoursome and a lot more 'repeatable' than say, typical Italian fare, which is bound to make us gain weight after several subsequent meals.

Certain errands brought me to Indooroopilly Shopping Centre and I was delighted to see a new Vietnamese fast food outlet had opened up downstairs. I managed to stop over for lunch on two occasions in the past week, which has given me plenty to review.

Both times I've ordered from Rice Paper Scissors, it has been busy. It's easily the busiest of all vendors in that particular food court. It was frustrating the first time because I had to rush to work afterwards so every moment of waiting stressed me out. The second time, I had nowhere I needed to be, which is good because it was an even longer wait. Not only was the queue for ordering long, I had the depressing situation of hearing all the order numbers after mine being called before me.

I first tried the rice paper rolls because I suspected that's what Rice Paper Scissors refers to. The good thing is there are lots of flavours to choose from. The annoying thing is the line so long that you really want to know which flavours to order before you get to the counter, but there's no list of flavours under the menu. It supposedly changes every day, which is fine, but it means that when it's your turn to order you end up wasting everyone's time by peering down the counter, trying to read the small labels, and figuring out which flavours you do want. That might be one reason the queue moves so slow.

Satay beef and pork and prawn rice paper rolls

The rice paper rolls I ordered were chicken and avocado, satay beef, pork and prawn and lemongrass chicken. These were packaged up and served rather quickly. I scoffed two down then and there and saved the others for later.

The filling of the rice paper rolls were quite tasty and fresh as a whole but I definitely would have preferred a higher meat to rice noodle ratio. I'm not a huge fan of rice-noodle and one of the merits (in my eyes) of ordering rice paper rolls in the first place is that they're supposed to be low carb. Large amounts of rice noodle not only makes it high carb but also bland. On the plus side, the dipping sauce was reallllly delicious. It was sweet, salty and peanuty and helped add some flavour to each bite.

Classic rare beef pho

On my second visit, I ordered a bowl of classic pho. My gut told me this would be a bad idea because pho shouldn't be a fast food item. I didn't see anyone else order it the entire time I was waiting for my order. It was a long wait, probably because it wasn't something they had to make as often as the salads and rolls.

Mixing some sauces in

When my bowl was ready, I was at once excited because I was very hungry, but also disappointed because all I could see was a sea of bean sprouts. Sure, bean sprouts are an important component and they're sure healthy, but there's more to pho than bean sprouts. I dug around and unearthed some slices of beef. Thank goodness.

The beef was a bit odd. It was very tough and overcooked in places and pink in others. It's a bit like what happens when I defrost meat too long in the microwave. The soup base, which in my opinion is the most important part of pho, also wasn't up to scratch. It tasted overly sweet and didn't have the multi-dimensional stock that I look for. I know that my expectations should be lower for 'fast food pho' but the version from Roll'd (another Vietnamese fast food outlet) is much better.

Iced black tea

Rice Paper Scissors has a meal deal where if you order something from the menu (such as pho) you can add iced black tea for $1. I actually quite liked the tea. It wasn't sweetened at all, which is perfect for me because I hate overly sweet drinks. It had a refreshing tea taste and was a perfect summer drink to compliment the hot soup.

I wasn't crazy about my experiences at Rice Paper Scissors. I can understand the popularity, because Vietnamese cuisine has that healthy vibe to it, it makes it appealing to the lunch crowd. I suspect that most of the people who are truly impressed by the taste hasn't tried food at an authentic Vietnamese eatery. I'm glad that this food is being marketed to the masses but as a regular lover of Vietnamese, I know there's much better out there.

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