I’ve always thought that street food trucks (or better still, street food bikes) would make a killing in the CBD. Whether it’s hot dogs or crepes, the characteristics of street food make it the perfect workday lunch – food that’s generally quick, tasty, filling and cheap.
Roll’d is a new lunch joint serving up Vietnamese street food to hungry office workers in the CBD. Their menu is small and focused on five popular dishes that you’re probably already familiar with – Cuốn (rice paper rolls), Bánh mì (baguettes), Gỏi (salad), Pho and Bún (vermicelli noodles).
My friends and I have tried almost everything on their menu, both eat in and takeaway, and we can recommend it all to varying degrees. We’re not the only ones to like Roll’d as apparently the queues have been snaking out the door every day since it opened around 6 weeks ago. Note that the ordering and pick up process is actually very smooth and efficient given how busy they are.
I could eat soup noodles every day in winter so naturally I gravitated towards the beef pho ($8.50). It’s not a large bowl in the manner you’d expect to see in Richmond, Springvale or Footscray but it’s filling enough and beautifully presented in a lacquered vessel and wooden platter. The flavour in the broth was a bit weak for me and the ratio of meat/veges and noodles was a little unbalanced but fortunately the bouncy rice noodles are my favourite part so I didn’t mind. I liked the option of fresh chilli but would have appreciated some Vietnamese mint and more bean sprouts too. But everyone likes to customise their pho a little differently.
The rice paper rolls are a standout. Made fresh every day they do a brisk trade in stylish cardboard and cellophane takeaway boxes with fillings such as lemongrass pork and prawn ($2.80), soft shell crab and avocado ($3) and BBQ chicken with sesame seeds ($2.6) plus a choice of sauce from nuoc mam to chilli mayo. I highly recommend the crab – a mouthful of crunchy and smooth at the same time, while the pork was a bit dry. The rolls are deceptively filling (2 or 3 is enough for even a large appetite) and transport well, with no hardening of the rice paper wrapping perceptible even after several hours. Cuốn certainly makes an interesting change from the ubiquitous sushi handrolls.
For dinner on the same night RM and I shared two Bún – two bowls of pork spring rolls ($7.90) and roast pork with cracking ($8.90) with vermicelli rice noodles, heaps of fresh veges and herbs. The roast pork is worth ordering – just the right amount of salty, crunchy meat to counter the other mild ingredients. The spring rolls did not fare well on their travels home and were very soggy so it’s hard to judge how they would have been be fresh.
While it’s not the best Vietnamese street food you’ll find in the CBD (for instance, I prefer N Lee Bakery‘s Bánh mì and the Prawn & Crab net spring roll salad at Miss Chu is amazing) the advantage of Roll’d is that they are located at the legal end of town with nothing else like it within walking distance, they’re quick and friendly and the food is comparable in price to a sandwich or sushi.
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