Among all the delights of Vietnamese cooking, and amid Sydney’s current Bánh mì craze, rice paper rolls are very easily sidelined as pho-gettable. But when the weather is warm and the mint is ripe I can’t help but have summer rolls on my mind! Here are a few of my favourite places to get my fill.
Great Aunty Three, Enmore
Squishing between the spectacled beatniks, flouncing coffee dates and seemingly endless settees of tiny furniture, all of which seem to spill from Great Aunty Three with its zesty aromas, you will soon realise that this restaurant is not a place where one merely consumes rice paper rolls, but where their consumption is turned into performance art.
Served in a nostalgic white paper box, which you often see dangling on the handlebars of cyclists riding by, it’s hard not to treat Great Aunty Three’s dainty rolls like a birthday gift. Jewelled with mango, tofu and shredded beef this is one Enmore destination where content matches form.
Rice Paper Vietnamese Cuisine, Newtown
For those of us who like to enjoy the translucent deliciousness of rice paper rolls or, in Vietnamese, Goi Cuon a little more privately, Rice Paper restaurant in Newtown is a hedonistic hideaway made just for you.
A testament to all things rice paper, not only will you be treated to a selection of summer, spring and winter rolls (which use mustard leaf and sour prawn instead of mint and fresh prawn) but an array of rice noodle dishes, including their popular beef rice noodle. Waiter Anthony says their customers usually only eat the rolls for an entrée, and with delectable offerings such as papaya salad, banana sticky rice and steaming pho I can kind of (maybe) understand why.
MINT Vietnamese Pho and Cuisine, Burwood
As you enter the bright and bubbly façade of this Burwood favourite you may be surprised by the silence that descends like a hot towel. Broken by an enthusiastic slurp or a snapping sprig of mint, this is the kind of quiet that only descends in the presence of a truly replenishing and fulfilling meal.
Reasonably priced and flush with a range of vegetarian options of summer roll, this is a place to take your friends, hunch over your meal and dig in. You’ll love the assortment of condiments and your own private kettle of tea… Satisfaction.
Old Thanh Huong Restaurant, Marrickville
Old Thanh Huong has become a dear old friend to many in the Inner West thanks to its homely décor, comforting assortment of noodle and rice dishes, and its even homelier prices. If you’re looking for a classic Marrickville Vietnamese, this is it!
Old Thanh Huong keeps their rice paper rolls simple and delicious. Pick from vegetables, fresh prawn, grilled chicken or grilled pork wrapped with a stash of vermicelli and a strap of garlic chive.
Be warned this place fills up fast and you will be sharing elbowroom with other local pleasure seekers. But with the unbelievable selection of Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai dishes, served with cathartic rounds of jasmine tea, this is an experience you won’t mind sharing with strangers.