Rice Paper Scissors
With so much going on in the Melbourne food scene, most of us will choose a restaurant based on a recommendation, a rating on Urbanspoon or a reference such as The Age’s annual Good Food Guide. It’s not often that anyone, especially the foodie types among us, will walk into a restaurant or cafe we happen to chance upon without knowing anything about it.
Rice Paper Scissors was the first place that I happened to discover by simply walking past as it is located next door to Double Happiness, one of my favourite city bars. Okay, to be fair I didn’t walk straight in – I looked it up first. What I found was a selection of small, well-priced South-East Asian dishes coupled with the slogan ‘use your hands’, which had me intrigued.
They offer a banquet option for $22.50 per head, which includes a selection of any 5 dishes from the menu. Each dish is individually portioned (e.g. pork buns), so they adjust the serving size depending on how many people you have (so for three people, you get three pork buns). As there were six of us, we selected an extra dish on top of the 5 dishes included in the banquet so that each of us could choose one.
This was my chosen dish. Rolled up and eaten in one go, the peppery leaf burst with juicy duck meat, sweet lychee and a fiery chilli-lime sauce. It packed a decent punch: quite of a few of our party thought this was a bit too spicy to be served at the start of the meal. Best avoided if you don’t have a high chilli tolerance, but utterly delicious if you do.
The lime-cured kingfish was bright and fresh with mint and chilli. My only complaint here was that it was a little awkward to eat off the rice crackers.
BBQ lamb ribs
All the regular Food Snob followers know how I feel about lamb. On this occasion however, I didn’t think it would be right to deny someone their dish of choice so I went with it, and figured I may as well try a bit. The sticky ribs had been marinated in ‘Mekhong whiskey’, which is a Thai spirit distilled from molasses, making it more like rum than whisky. The ribs were tender with a perfect little layer of soft fat. There was enough sauce on there to mask the ‘lamby’ aftertaste, so I’m slightly ashamed to admit that these were actually somewhat enjoyable.
Thai fried chicken
Spicy chicken wings with sriracha mayo. Can’t go wrong.
Steamed pork buns
I hadn’t seen bao like this before, with the bun sliced in half burger-style. It was a little awkward to eat as the fillings easily came out the sides; I would have preferred a gua bao/fold-over “taco” style bun instead. It was tasty nevertheless, with a classic combination of crispy pork belly, cucumber, spring onion and hoisin.
Crispy coconut wafer
These were mini versions of banh xeo, the Vietnamese coconut pancakes filled with a mix of pork, prawn and bean sprouts. The wafer and lettuce combination was satisfyingly crunchy and the juicy filling dripped with perfectly balanced nuoc cham.
Rice Paper Scissors offers a great take on the modern Thai/Vietnamese street food theme with a casual vibe and wallet-friendly prices. Shorter wait than Chin Chin, cheaper than Red Spice Road, more chilled out than Miss Chu’s. It’s only been open a few months but Rice Paper Scissors is sure to be a winner. Be prepared to get your hands dirty.Rice Paper Scissors 19 Liverpool Street Melbourne