The rice paper queen rolls into Melbourne
Rice paper rolls can be pretty hard work – just picture tucking rebellious ingredients into paper-thin skin. At their worst, they can be gummy and bland, and at their best they can be from Miss Chu, a hawker-style tuckshop hailing from Sydney that’s now flown south to Exhibition St in the CBD.
Founder Nahji Chu or ‘Miss Chu’ spent much of her childhood in a Vietnamese refugee camp before coming to Australia. A great cook, she started catering, serving Asian canapés to partygoers. With an original and unique concept, she opened her first shopfront in Sydney six years ago and it filled with time-poor and hungry locals from word go.
Miss Chu’s puts a modern mark on familial recipes as her young face flags the wallpaper inside. The cheapish menu features dumplings steamed with scallops and prawns, fluffy pork buns, Peking duck pancakes, warm vermicelli salads and other Vietnamese delicacies.
And, of course, there is her signature range of rice paper rolls. Light and tasty, they’re filled to order with market-fresh goodies and devoid of MSG. The tiger prawn and green mango, or the roast duck with banana flower versions are standouts.
Avoiding lines onto the footpath, takeaway service is notoriously brief. Goodies come quick in plastic containers or paper bags, like the old lunch order days.
If you’re sticking around, sit inside or alfresco on old milk crates. In the evening, lanterns light a small alcove on the footpath. There’s upbeat music and little teapots hang above the bar and kitchen.
Sip on a young coconut juice – real flesh floats inside, triggering thoughts of island beaches. Or try Miss Chu’s own favourite: the banana lassi, a frozen version blended with banana and mint. Open till 10 pm, they’re also licenced, so accept a splash of vodka.
Oh, and Miss Chu delivers, so expect to spy little electric bikes shuttling her delicacies across town.
Where: 297 Exhibition St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9077 1097
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm