Anyone who has experienced the joys of travelling through South East Asia, and the huge variety of delicious flavours found in hawker markets, will share the excitement of returning to those tastes here in Melbourne upon a visit to Rice Paper Scissors. Fitzroy is the locale for the restaurant's second venue, with the first having been open for a while now in the CBD. It's safe to say that the team has not dropped the ball in the duplicate — the food and atmosphere are just as great as the original.
The atmosphere is very relaxed, a welcome difference from the chaos and noise of true hawker markets. For people like us who don't just want one dish, but want all the food, there is cause for celebration. The style here is all about sharing plates and multiple mini meals. The friendly staff will explain how to get to grips, quite literally, with the perfectly presented food — you are encouraged to eat with your hands for most dishes, and a lemon water basin is provided to refresh those sticky fingers between delicious bites.
We found the amount of attention given to the menu for those with dietary restrictions exceptional and truly reflects that this team understand the Fitzroy area. The majority of meals can be altered for vegetarians and vegans. Expertly treated tofu replaces the meat component of these dishes in a exceptional way — even your meat loving companions will love them. Having said that, those carnivorously inclined will definitely find a lot on the menu to sink their teeth into.
Leaving the difficult task of what to pick from the menu in the capable hands of our waiter, we were excited about each new and impressively presented meal to arrive. Galloping horses ($10) turned out to be carefully stacked bite-sized balls of caramelised pork with prawn and crushed peanut on pineapple chunks. The vegetarian adaption is equally as explosive. Yam pla foo — or tapioca dusted barramundi ($12) — with a green apple and roast cashew salad was a standout dish, full of zesty, fresh flavours matched perfectly with the flawlessly cooked fish. It was also impossible not to love the flavour explosion from the betel leaf ($11) topped with Balinese roast duck and coconut sambal. You can order five different dishes for $55 between two people, which is easily enough to fill two hungry bellies.
There is nothing like a sweet and sticky iced Vietnamese coffee ($3.50) on a warm summer's day (or lets face it, anytime), and the ones dealt up by Rice Paper Scissors are very large and look terrific. We were also impressed with the iced tea ($4.50), a not too sweet, not too bitter drink brewed in house. If you're after something with a little more kick, then look no further than the Thai influenced cocktails. One Inch Punch ($17) is a mix of Thai whisky, cognac, fresh lemon and ruby red grapefruit, and an interesting version of an espresso martini ($17) using condensed milk is available for those with a sweet tooth. Our pick for a refreshing summer drink over some spicy food would be the Lemongrass Tom Collins ($17): lemongrass infused gin with cucumber and sparkling soda.
Currently open for lunch and dinner services (although bookings can be made for lunch only), we look forward to exploring the flavours of Rice Paper Scissors again soon.
Rice Paper Scissors also has a second location in the city, at 19 Liverpool Street, Melbourne.