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Rice Paper in Eden Center - Report

s
Steve Jan 26, 2012 05:19 PM

Seven Chowhounds got together for lunch today at Rice Paper, a new Vietnamese restaurant that provides a rather sleek environment compared to the normally relaxed vibe found in Eden Center.

The kitchen was firing on all cylinders - at least the ones we tested. We never got to the soup noodles or hot pot. We ordered:

Grilled shrimp and pork skewers with steamed vermicelli
Whole crispy flounder with mango salad and ginger sauce
Baby clams baked in clay pot with rice
Grilled pork chop and sweet Chinese sausage on broken rice
Marinated quails
Garden rolls (called steam rice paper rolls on the menu)
Baby clams with pork served with rice cracker

Not sure how we wound up with TWO minced clam dishes, but both were exceptional. The clay pot with beautifully crisped rice, and the clams with pork with a slightly peppery and smoky nod - this is a dish that has drifted sweet in most places.

In addition to the clams, the shrimp was particularly delicious. The steamed vermicelli served with the skewers was a nice touch.

All the cooked dishes were impressive, with only the garden rolls being standard issue.

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  1. ktmoomau Jan 26, 2012 06:31 PM

    This was an amazing lunch. I don't know what I liked better. The crispy whole fish was really addictively good, I also liked the tang of the salad that came with it. I also really liked the pork with broken rice, the bit of sausage and the skewers. I like the clams in hot pot better than with the cracker, but it might have been the sauce.

    All in all though it was a great lunch with so many things that I really enjoyed.

    1. v
      VaPaula Jan 27, 2012 01:40 PM

      Sounds great. Thanks for the report.

      How do newbies get invited to Chowhound gatherings? Not that I could have gotten away for lunch yesterday...but just wondering for future reference.

      4 Replies
      1. re: VaPaula
        s
        Steve Jan 27, 2012 04:54 PM

        As always, everyone is welcome. Send me a PM, and I'll put you on the list.

        1. re: Steve
          KWagle Jan 29, 2012 06:51 AM

          You always forget to invite ME! :'-(

          1. re: KWagle
            s
            Steve Jan 29, 2012 07:09 AM

            I'll make sure your name is on the list, but I wasn't the organizer this time.

            Just so I keep this on topic, anyone with a keen interest in grilled meats will be very pleased with the high standards at Rice Paper.

          2. re: Steve
            n
            nissenpa Jan 29, 2012 12:01 PM

            Me too!

        2. ktmoomau Jan 29, 2012 09:43 AM

          Went back again today for "brunch" with Hubby and BIL. Had pho and vermicelli dishes and crispy spring rolls. Everything again was very good, the grilled shrimp and pork really has great flavor. There was a girl next table who has a lemongrass noodle soup that looked really good. Will have to go back and explore that.

          1. GraydonCarter Jan 30, 2012 03:11 PM

            Do you guys rotate the plates so everyone gets a good portion of each dish, or does everyone order their own and then just share a bite? How do you share the Garden Rolls, cut them up into pieces, or order one for each person? I'd think with a chowhound crowd people would be more willing to pass plates around. A lazy susan in the middle of our table would be ideal.

            10 Replies
            1. re: GraydonCarter
              s
              Steve Jan 30, 2012 04:34 PM

              Complete sharing of all dishes. Yes, we cut our food up into little bits if need be. Lazy Susan and food served family style work best, but over the years we have tackled every cuisine available in the DC area. Our ability to order so much of the menu gives us a good idea of what the possibilities or limitations of a kitchen are.

              At Rice Paper, it was mostly easy to share everything. The quail was the skimpiest, but even then I think everyone got a taste.

              1. re: Steve
                s
                shortorder2 Jan 31, 2012 01:46 PM

                Steve: I suggest the group invest in its own lazy susan to facilitate sharing at restaurants that, like Rice Paper, are rich in food, but lack their own lazy susans.

                1. re: shortorder2
                  GraydonCarter Jan 31, 2012 03:22 PM

                  Boy, they'd know we are serious when we walk in with our own equipment.

                  1. re: shortorder2
                    KWagle Jan 31, 2012 05:30 PM

                    Lazy Susans take too much space on the tables. I want wheeled robots to move the dishes around. And I think that oval tables would work better than round or square ones.

                    1. re: shortorder2
                      k
                      Knazna Jan 31, 2012 08:50 PM

                      My stomach hurts from laughing at this visual......

                      1. re: shortorder2
                        m
                        MikeR Feb 1, 2012 07:25 AM

                        It's not difficult to pass around the serving plates, but what we sometimes need is a good sharp kitchen knife for cutting things up into smaller portions. It's tough to cut a spring roll with a chopstick. ;)

                        1. re: MikeR
                          GraydonCarter Feb 1, 2012 01:27 PM

                          BYOK

                          1. re: GraydonCarter
                            f
                            flavrmeistr Apr 8, 2013 05:20 AM

                            Doesn't everybody?

                          2. re: MikeR
                            ktmoomau Feb 1, 2012 02:36 PM

                            Other chowhounders I know have brought their own huge shun cleavers and a cutting board to excursions, just sayin...

                            (Of course had I not known him better this may have been a bit worrying)

                            1. re: MikeR
                              chowser Feb 2, 2012 02:42 PM

                              Scissors are great for that situation--they work on meat, too. You can get a pair of kitchen shears w/ a cover. If I can ever make one of these gatherings, I'll bring one.

                      2. j
                        Just Visiting Apr 8, 2013 03:47 AM

                        Four of us had a terrific meal at Rice Paper last night but the service was beyond awful. We nearly got up and left.

                        We had a reservation. The place was slammed but we were seated right away. We realized it might be a bit slow, but what happened was way beyond a little slow. It took us a while to order. The waiter checked with us fairly promptly but we were still trying to decide. He didn't come back for another 20 minutes. We ordered. He didn't write down what we ordered and didn't tell us that one of the apps we ordered was identical to the dish that accompanies the congee. He unilaterally decided we didn't want the same dish twice - which was true - but led to problems later.

                        At the 30 minute mark, the spring rolls (one order) arrive and we take this as a good sign. Nope. Another 15 minutes go by. We watch as other food arrives at other tables - some of them seated after we'd ordered. We finally manage to get the attention of the waiter and ask him to check on our order. He disappears and doesn't return. Finally I ask to speak to the owner. Turns out the woman I asked was the owner. I asked if there was some reason they didn't want to serve us a meal. She said of course not and asked what happened. I told her and she was apologetic. About 5 minutes later, our meal starts to arrive, but not the duck salad appetizer I'd ordered. Eventually it arrives and we realize it is the same dish as the one that accompanies the congee (they are described differently on the menu). The owner explains that this is why the waiter didn't put in my order for the app - but again, he should have explained this to us so we wouldn't think that it had simply been forgotten. She graciously agreed to take it away.

                        The food was terrific. I suspect you can blindfold yourself and point your finger at any item on the menu and have a great meal here.

                        By the way, the website is a bit difficult to find. It is here:

                        http://ricepaper-tasteofvietnam.com/

                        So some specifics: The app called Goi Vit (19) is duck meat with shredded banana blossom and morning glory. It is HUGE. Easily enough for four people. It is exactly the same "salad" that accompanies #53 Chao Vit (duck congee with duck salad). In either case, it is very good. It is not, however, shredded duck meat. It is actual chunks of cut-up duck. The spicy lemongrass chicken (#37) was fantastic and same for #43 - baby clams baked in clay pot with rice and vegetables. Really, everything we ordered was great and there wasn't even a spoonful of food left on a plate at the end of the meal.

                        I am going to chalk up the bad service to a fluke and return.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Just Visiting
                          tommyskitchen Apr 8, 2013 04:08 AM

                          I went there a few times when it first opened and had spotty service each time - They were nice but not very attentive once I sat down. I was hoping they were just ironing things out, it's a shame that isn't the case...

                        2. s
                          Steve Apr 27, 2013 05:00 PM

                          A happy return to Rice Paper, and a couple of new discoveries.

                          This is the only place in the area I've seen serve their rice paper wraps as dried disks of rice paper that you wet to soften yourself. It provides for a nice n' chewy wrap. The grilled meat provided is top notch. The wraps are a Must Order.

                          Also, the first broken rice dish (#25) listed on the menu is a hodgepodge of different toppings, all excellent: pork chop, egg custard, chinese sausage, shrimp wrapped in fried rice paper, and a few other items. A terrific platter of food at a very low price.

                          An Appetizer of 'rocket' shrimp is for tempura fans: a beautiful and colorful version, perfectly executed.

                          What I didn't like was the duck salad. Awkward chunks of rather tough steamed duck. A whopping, generous portion.... but too much work!

                          All the prices here (except for the elaborate hotpots) are surprisingly low.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Steve
                            luckyfatima Apr 29, 2013 06:43 AM

                            I <3 Rice Paper. I will have to try the rocket shrimp. Yep, duck can be risky at places, I usually only go for duck dishes if they have BBQ made in house, too. Have had the experience of gristly, tough duck in clay pot or stir fry too often.

                            Went to Rice Paper yesterday...craving induced by your post. I really like that place and have always had a good meal there.

                            We ordered three types of proteins with banh hoi (extra fine vermicelli cakes) to make roll-your-own rice paper wrapped salad rolls. We had chao tom (shrimp on sugar cane stick) which was okay, lemon chicken, which was very lemony but good, and the grilled beef. That grilled beef is out of this world. I mean really, really good! I wish I could eat piles and piles of it. The banh hoi plate comes with only 3 skewers of it. Next time I go I might order two plates of that.

                            We also ate canh chua, which is sweet and sour tamarind seafood soup. It was pretty good. The broth wasn't completely flat tasting but it did lack some depth (maybe needed a pinch of MSG or canh chua powder if they were using that). It was also very slightly too sweet. Canh chua is a favorite soup of mine, so maybe I am being too picky, though. You have the option of fish or shrimp but I asked them to give both fish and shrimp. The fish was mild and very tender, they were careful to serve it right away so that seafood wouldn't overcook in the broth. The broth included tomatoes, pineapple, okra, luffah squash (muop huong), water cress, and loads of bean sprouts. I am used to this being a little spicy but this one wasn't. I enjoyed it.

                            1. re: Steve
                              w
                              Worldwide Diner Apr 29, 2013 07:02 AM

                              Hai Duong has the dried rice paper disks, IIRC.

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