During these last few weeks of summer, we're trying to keep cool and that means skipping out on anything fried, breaded, or even hot. So lately we've become quite attached to the Vietnamese spring roll.
It's like a delicious salad all wrapped up in a convenient rice paper package with a side of nutty peanut sauce. We're slightly addicted. Especially when it's 116 degrees outside. Which brings us to this week's battle. Sure, we could stop by any Vietnamese restaurant in town to pick up a couple of our new rolled obsessions but we wanted exciting spring rolls with exciting ingredients so we put Rice Paper's extensive spring roll list against Scottsdale's best Asian fusion restaurant Tottie's.
May the best roll win!
In This Corner: Rice Paper
The Set Up: Downtown Phoenix's only Vietnamese eatery just happens to also be the most stylish Vietnamese joint in town. Located in a renovated house off 7th Street and McDowell, Rice Paper serves up traditional Vietnamese eats with a modern twist. Their spring roll selection reads like a sushi menu, incorporating everything from shrimp tempura to seared tuna and Asian sausage.
We decided to try two of their rolls -- the traditional with poached shrimp and lean pork and the tuna.
The Good: These rolls are so freakin' pretty. All of the ingredients are neatly rolled up in pretty sheets of rice paper and set on their plate neatly with a little bowl of accompanying sauce. The rolls are full of super fresh quality ingredients. The tuna roll had perfectly seared pieces of pink ahi tuna and strips of jicama that gave the roll a great texture and the mango orange dipping sauce was a wonderful change from the normal peanut sauce. The traditional roll also had the same crisp veggies and big pieces of bright shrimp and the sweet peanut sauce really livened up the roll.
The Bad: These rolls may be pretty but they are lacking flavor. We want something with a little pizazz. And they're a little on the small size. Cute, but kinda small.
In The Other Corner: Tottie's Asian Fusion
The Set Up: Chef/owner Tottie Kaya has been mixing up the delicious flavors of Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cooking in her restaurant off Thomas & Hayden Road for nearly a decade. The multicultural eatery offers a relaxing, Asian-styled setting with a super friendly staff to help make your dining experience awesome.
The menu features five different springs rolls -- traditional, salmon, soft shell crab, shrimp tempura, and veggie. For this battle, we went with the traditional roll with shrimp & pork and the salmon roll since it was the most similar to Rice Paper's tuna roll.
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The Good: Tottie's spring rolls are packed full of ingredients. These rolls were actually so big it looked like their contents were going to explode right out of their sticky rice paper wrappers. The salmon rolls were full of flavorful mint, crispy bean sprouts, lettuce, carrots, and big chunks of well cooked salmon. They came with a nice side of sweet soy sauce and a traditional peanut sauce for dipping. They were good, but the traditional rolls were outstanding -- bursting with shrimp and, the best part, barbecued pork. The mint complemented the flavorful meat so well we wished we would have skipped the salmon and ordered two orders of the traditional rolls.
The Bad: The rolls looked a little hastily put together. Definitely not as pretty as Rice Paper's works of art. A minor detail.
The Verdict: Looks aren't everything in this battle. Tottie's traditional rolls win this battle by a landslide. The rolls may not be pretty, but they have more awesome flavors than any other spring roll we've ever had. We still love Rice Paper for their selection but we may be ditching the CenPho eatery and making the trip to Scottsdale next time the spring roll craving hits.