What’s your idea of a healthy lunch? For me, it’s always been sushi, until I realised how much mayonnaise and fatty cuts of sub-par meat (not all of them, but still an unfortunate majority) they put in there. So rice papers rolls seemed to be the natural switch. To be honest, I didn’t like rice paper rolls until fairly recently, the smell and the taste of the rice paper has always put me off. But something clicked in me practically over-night (this happened with scallops too), and I suddenly find myself making enough rice paper rolls to last me through a medieval siege. So when I heard that Sydney’s MissChu has opened a canteen-styled branch in Melbourne specialising in gourmet rice paper rolls and other little nibbles, I immediately scooped K up, and bundled him off for a spot of early dinner.
If you had to use one word to describe MissChu, it would be quirky. From the drinks menu designed to look like a nutritional label (look up), to the upturned bowls serving as lamps (look down), the long, dark and narrow space is effortlessly Melbourne, and effortlessly cool. Even the ordering process is different – you tick the dishes you want from the ordering form with the pencils provided, hand it up at the counter, and wait for your food. Alternatively you could give them a call, and they’ll deliver your order to your door, not on motorcycles, but on electric bikes!
|Bad Lighting (and bad pun)|
The menu certainly looks promising, comprising of various types of gourmet rice paper rolls (including an intriguing sashimi tuna one), some nibbles that wouldn’t look out of place at yum cha, and a selection of larger dishes, such as Vietnamese warm vermicelli salad, and wagyu beef pho.
|Satay Chicken and Coconut Young/Tiger Prawn and Green Mango ($6.5 for 2)|
But we’re here for the rice paper rolls. So we ordered a serve of Tiger Prawn and Green Mango rolls, as well as some Satay Chicken and Coconut Young rolls ($6.5 for a serve of 2) to share. To my disappointment, they came pre-packaged, but were thankfully still fresh. I bit into one, expecting a flavour explosion, but all I could taste was salad and the sauce (which was a lovely peanut sauce in a convenient little bottle), and none of the promised exotic ingredients. On the bright side, the rolls weren’t overwhelmed by rice noodles, and the little slip of paper keeping the rolls apart was a nice little touch.
|Scallop and Prawn Steamed Dumplings ($6 for 3)|
My stomach was reasonably satisfied by then, but K kindly offered me one of his Scallop and Prawn Steamed Dumplings ($6 for 3). They certainly looked the part, sitting on the plate all plump and shiny in a pool of sauce, and came with a much more reasonable price tag. And they would’ve been perfect, if the bottom hadn’t fallen open the moment we tried to pick them up. But I think I can overlook the slightly gluggy skin, for the dumplings themselves were stuffed generously with seafood, and the sauce that came with it was a tastebud-tingling mix of sesame oil and chilli.
|Organic Raspberry and Apple Juice ($3.5)|
And a Raspberry and Apple Juice ($3.5) for K as well, despite the fact that he’s going to go home after this and have a second dinner.
I’m not sure how sold I am on MissChu. On one hand, their dumplings are enough to bring me back for a repeat visit, but for $6.5, I’d much rather get 4 sub-par rice paper rolls from the food court, than 2 rolls with gourmet ingredients that I couldn’t taste.
Rating: 11/20 – Good Sauces