Before I start any review about a Vietnamese restaurant – I have to preface it with a shout out to my parent’s Vietnamese restaurant: King Noodle House Pho Hoang @ 10615 97 Street. :) No matter how much I enjoy any other Vietnamese restaurant – no other pho/broth comes close to being as delicious as my mother’s. Do try it if you haven’t yet!
Now onto Rice Paper…
Mike and I went to Rice Paper in the west end (10080 178 Street) earlier this month (before our Cuba trip, sorry for the delayed post, I have a LOT of restaurant reviews that are a long-time coming). I have wanted to try Rice Paper for a very long time because there aren’t a lot of Vietnamese options in the far west end and Rice Paper is one of the few available. The restaurant is officially called ‘Rice Paper Vietnamese Fine Dining’ so you expect a slightly higher quality, higher experience even before arriving. The building on the outside is very cute – it looks like a cottage house!
On the inside Rice Paper is super clean and does have a more fine dining feel to it. There are a lot of options for you – from rice paper dishes to soup to chow mein – with beef or chicken or shrimp or whatever you may desire. I was kind of put off by our server, who was a younger-ish Asian fella who interrupted me when I started ordering in Vietnamese – to say ‘I am not Vietnamese, I can’t understand you!’ I’m always a bit put off when I’m at a Vietnamese restaurant and the server tells me they don’t understand Vietnamese (this has happened only twice before!) but putting that aside…
We ordered Green Onion Cakes ($5.99) and Grilled Beef and Pork Satay Skewers ($9.99) to start. We loved our appies. It came in big, filling portions that were hot and tasty.
Mike ordered the Grilled Beef Rice Paper Wraps ($16.99) which is essentially a do-it-yourself salad roll type of experience. Mike didn’t realize this DIY aspect of it (he probably should have asked me, or I should have told him) so he didn’t really like it (working for your food! Lol). The dish came with beef, rice paper, bean sprouts, vermicelli noodles, mint leaves, lettuce, green onions and fish sauce. You basically dip your rice paper in hot water to get it cooked and then place the various meat and veggies inside, roll it up, dip and eat! The dish itself was good – the vegetables were fresh and the beef tasty (basically the same beef as in the skewers we had ordered). But the getting your hands dirty and having to DIY aspect didn’t appeal to Mike too much. Plus our table was packed with dishes at this point – and that particular table could seat 4. I can’t imagine if there were actually 4 of us on that table and we ordered more than the one rice paper dish – there’d be no room!
I ordered the Bun bo Hue – Central Vietnamese Soup ($11.99) against the wishes of my mother – who always questions why I would bother trying soup at other Vietnamese restaurants when she knows hers is the best (lol!) But I always want to try soups at Vietnamese restaurants so I can truly back up my claims that my mother’s soup is the best so I ordered the bun bo hue and was actually very pleased with it! The soup comes out in a funky looking bowl which at first makes it look like there’s not much soup in there but once you start eating you see the bowl is quite deep and there is a lot of broth in it! The broth is a bright orange with a great spicy flavour that I further enhanced with some chili that was at the table. I also love to add lemon/lime to make the soups more flavourful. The soup also came with rare steak instead of the typical well-done beef that is associated with bun bo hue. As I love rare steak more so than the well-done beef, this was a pleasant surprise!
Overall I very much enjoyed Rice Paper. There’s lots of variety to please everyone – and the soup/broth passes in my books – which is rare (it joins only a couple other Edmonton area Vietnamese restaurants to satisfy my high pho/broth standards). The DIY aspect should appeal to anyone who hasn’t had a Vietnamese rice paper-style meal before, it’s definitely something you should try! As I said, the soup and broth passes in my books – but it’s also more expensive than your typical Vietnamese restaurant pho/bun bo hue. At $11.99 – you’re paying about $4 more than you would at most Vietnamese restaurants (including my parent’s – King Noodle House 10615 97 Street: PLUG!) but then you have to remember you’re at a restaurant that boasts “Vietnamese Fine Cuisine” so the extra dollars are kind of to be expected. I loved the green onion cakes and the portion sizes. I was left feeling full and we still were able to take home soup and some of Mike’s rice paper dish for lunch the next day! Yum. Rice Paper is a lovely Vietnamese restaurant to have in the west end! I’ll be back!
Have you been there? What did you think??
I believe it is a bit unfair to judge the restaurant because of the staff’s language skill. Granted, you can speak Vietnamese; however, the lingua franca in these parts of the country is English. If we put things in perspective, a lot of ethnic restaurants don’t have wait staff in said language. When was the last time you have been in a Japanese restaurant with a Japanese staff (assuming you could tell)? Or, does Julio’s Barrio wait staff speak Spanish (in their radio ad, they say they offer “authentic Mexican”fare!)? Instead, I believe the key note ought be whether food was good. In this case, they seem to have delivered!
BTW, it is funny the remark about DIY type meals. A lot of Caucasians like taco kits (Old del Paso, for example) because of that feature. I guess that means no bo 7 mon for him!
As for Vietnamese restaurants in the area, there are at least two other Vietnamese restaurants in the area: Pho Hoa (if you even consider it!), Hoang Long and Le Pagode (which menu looks suspiciously similar to that of Pagolac).
Finally, I used to use a similar tacting with my mother: In other to appreciate her cooking, once in a while we ought to try food from other places! :D
Nice review, Linda! I was there a couple months back with four people at the table.. We ordered the rice paper special & four bowls of pho. Imagine how packed the table was and how difficult it was to eat, haha!
I do agree that they have a great soup base – I still have to try your parents though! On my to-do list for this winter :)