Rice Papr Scrs stood firmly at the number one spot of Tripadvisor’s Melbourne Restaurants for months, usurped only when Heston’s The Fat Duck swung by briefly for a residency in the Australia’s foodie city. It’s somehow fitting that this was my last meal out in Melbourne after living there for three months, though if I still lived there this would definitely be a regular haunt of mine.
Vietnamese food has become pretty popular in London in the last couple of years or so, with a tonne of pho places popping up all over the city and not just on Kingsland Road. But we are well behind Australia, who with a large Vietnamese population have been familiar with the South East Asian cuisine for a long time now. Rice Papr Scrs focuses on food you use your hands to eat, so this is one Vietnamese restaurant where you won’t find a bowl of pho in sight – instead, order a bunch of small plates to share (or not, as the case may be, they’re good enough to not want to), and messily tuck in to some of Melbourne’s best food.
The bahn bao – steamed buns with pork belly, hoisin sauce and cucumber – were absolutely delicious and I would happily pop into Rice Papr Scrs at lunch to grab a few of these on their own. Having taken advantage of the 5 dishes for $55 deal, we also ate Mekong whiskey marinated lamb ribs in a sticky sauce, Thai (so I guess RPS isn’t exclusively Vietnamese) fried chicken marinated in galangal, chilli and coriander, as well as a spicy chicken salad and beautiful soft shell crab banh mi. Everything was great, and 5 dishes to share between two was enough to fill up even the greediest expat foodies in Melbourne.
These two expats from England have a slight penchant for espresso martinis, and it turns out that Rice Papr Scrs do one of the most delicious you could wish for. Each of the three ingredients would be advised against by your doctor, which is probably why they are so good: vodka, espresso and condensed milk, the latter of which is a staple in Vietnamese coffee culture. Shaken up and served over ice, they were fucking sublime and you should follow our lead and have at least three.
In keeping with all those hipster restaurants with a truck load of buzz about them, there are no dinner reservations at Rice Papr Scrs. Get there early or expect to wait – and you could be waiting a long while. Luckily for the foodies of Melbourne, they do take lunch bookings, and have recently opened a second location in Brunswick Street in the unarguably awesome Fitzroy, so your chances to find out what the fuss is all about have doubled.
Rice Papr Scrs City; 19 Liverpool Street, CBD. Open every day from 12-3pm for lunch and 6pm until late for dinner.
Tel: +61 03 9663 9890
Rice Papr Scrs Fitzroy; 307 Brunswick Street. Closed on Monday and opens from Tuesday for dinner from 6pm, running an additional lunch service between 12pm and 3pm Thursday – Sunday.
Tel: +61 03 9486 0066