by Ian McNulty
Once found strictly at Vietnamese restaurants, the rice paper spring roll has been turning up at all kinds of eateries and even the occasional convenience store counter. More recently, at Jazmine Café (614 South Carrollton Ave., 866-9301), they’ve also jumped over to the sushi bar and come back as a Vietnamese/Japanese hybrid.
Jazmine Café is has been a fairly standard Vietnamese restaurant in the Riverbend, serving pho, banh mi and a few more elaborate entrée specialties. Over the summer, the restaurant added what looks like a sushi bar in the corner of its dining room, but this new addition isn’t making California rolls. Rather, it’s the workstation for a new menu that melds spring rolls and sushi rolls, working raw and cooked fish and plenty of other unconventional spring roll ingredients into fresh, rice paper wrappers.
The “rainbow spring” I sampled, for instance, arrived layered with slices of raw salmon, tuna and yellowtail and filled with crabstick, but it was bound by crisp lettuce and the familiar texture of fresh rice paper. Slices of avocado and mango went over the similarly composed “caterpillar spring.”
The spring roll menu lists 30 varieties, drawing on sushi bar staples like spicy tuna, barbecue eel, spicy tuna smelt roe and soft shell crab. Others are more in line with Vietnamese tradition, like the “original spring” with the normal fillings of pork, shrimp and rice noodles and a few are built with char-grilled beef, pork or chicken flavored with lemongrass. Vegetarian rolls brings jicama, tofu, seaweed salad and even pineapple and strawberry into the mix.
614 South Carrollton Ave., 866-9301