03 Jan Rice Paper Scissors, Melbourne CBD
Rice Paper Scissors has been making waves since it opened and I’ve been wanting to try it for the longest time. We arrive for lunch, specifically so that we can book a table. We arrive just before 12pm and there are already people being told they’ll have to wait for the second seating at 1:30pm. We take a seat at the bar, which is perfect for two people. The high stools are well spaced, and the counter area is relatively deep, making it easier to fit our order on the table. In fact they’re roughly the same depth as the communal tables, but customers sit side by side rather than opposite one another, making it even more roomy (relatively speaking).
The ‘Share the Love’ option of five dishes for a set price is now more expensive at $59, but the individual prices of the dishes are the same making the proposition sadly less enticing than before. I’d already made a shortlist of five dishes beforehand, and the Asian in me still wanted to save the $2 so went with it anyway.
They really do mean #eatwithyourhands. We’re each provided with two thick napkins and a finger bowl for cleaning – a necessity for all the hands-on action with the sticky sauces we’re about to encounter.
The BBQ Lamb Ribs (Sii Krong Nuex) are unctuous and one piece literally slides off the bone as I pick it up. Packed with flavour from its Mekhong whiskey marinade and sticky special sauce, and oh so juicy, but the ribs hold mostly fat and also taste gamey. Definitely not one for people with a dislike for lamb, but a decadent pleasure for those who don’t.
I go with the Thai Fried Chicken (Peek Gai Tod) on a recommendation, but whilst they were crispy and not saturated in oil, the flavours of the galangal, chilli and coriander root don’t leave much of an impression, and there is very little meat in some pieces. I begin to wonder if I should have picked the kingfish ceviche instead. I do like the slightly spicy mayo though, and it adds a needed kick.
The Sticky Pork Belly (Muu Krob), the infamous twice cooked pork with tamarind caramel sauce, is tasty and thankfully not sickly sweet or claggy. Some pieces are a little dry, but overall we’re pleased with it. The refreshing salad composed mostly of beansprouts and mint helps to break it up a little.
Crying Tiger (Seua Rong Hai) is made with tender wagyu and cooked medium-rare, though oddly there are only four leaves to go with our five pieces of beef. The flavours of the spicy citrus dressing are fresh and vibrant, making it my favourite of the dishes.
We finish with the mini banh mi, with crispy soft shell crab and pickled vegetables. The mayo looks the same as the one that came with the fried chicken, but it still goes well with the crab.
The bebek betutu sounds like an interesting dish, but following our recently trip to Bali I decide not to set myself up for potential disappointment so soon. Perhaps next time.