This is actually my third time at Wrap & Roll, Star Vista. A friend and I had chanced upon this place by accident and discovered they had a small handful of promising vegetarian* options on the menu. Despite the small variety, I find myself always going back to the same item every time – the Steamed Rice Crepe Rolls. That day, we decided to order the Vietnamese Jasmine Tea upon recommendation so my review is really going to be on these two items (see pictures of the other vegetarian options below). Given the handful of decent offerings, I do feel this is enough in my opinion to qualify Wrap & Roll as a somewhat vegetarian/ vegan-friendly Vietnamese joint.
*Word of Caution about Vegetarian Options:
Now I’d previously thought their ‘vegetarian’ logo on the menu meant vegan since 1. dairy generally doesn’t feature much in Vietnamese cuisine and 2. the options themselves don’t seem to contain egg, but upon making some inquiries as well as finding out myself that the idea of vegetarian in Vietnam is actually pretty vague, the VEGETARIAN options MAY NOT BE WHAT YOU THINK. I’ll describe more in detail at the end of this post which options are truly vegan and which are hazily vegetarian-ish.
Vietnamese Jasmine Tea
Our tea came swiftly and piping hot, which is a sign that the tea is ready-made rather than freshly brewed and kept hot for fast dispensing. We weren’t particularly intrigued by its fragrance nor by its special label of being a ‘Vietnamese’ jasmine tea. We agreed that although our tea was indeed a normal and decent tasting Jasmine tea, it was really nothing special. Which begs the question: is Vietnamese Jasmine tea just average stuff? Or the Jasmine tea leaves they used average?
At a dollar though, it is neither memorable nor particularly worth screaming daylight robbery.Order it if you need a thirst-quencher, but not so if you’re looking for an eye-brow raising experience.
Vegetarian Steamed Rice Crepe Rolls
Let me begin by saying I love these Vietnamese rolls. That’s the only reason I’d order them again and again and bother patronising an eatery that’s not overall catered to the vegetarian crowd right?
While the run-of-the-mill Vietnamese raw spring rolls usually contain veggie fillings like lettuce, carrots, cucumber, and fresh coriander, these are really quite different in that they feature predominantly and generously of Vietnamese herbs such as Vietnamese perilla, very similar tasting to the Japanese perilla (aka Shiso or Beefsteak). Yes, the greens you see in there are all herbs, not leafy greens! And they’re wrapped around a filling of fried and grated radish, carrot, mushroom and tofu. A very similar mixture to Hakka soon pan, in my opinion.
I know it’s hardly rocket science by the sounds of it but there’s something that shines about its unassuming nature. The fresh herb flavors offset the savory meaty fried filling really well creating a balance in the overall taste while the steamed rice paper wrap on the outside provides just that needed bit of easy-to-digest carbs that makes these rolls both filling and mild on the stomach.
Add to that a simple Vietnamese dipping sauce to add an extra oomph to these rolls. The sauce is sweet and salty, flavorful from soy sauce and marinated onions, and complements the rolls nicely. I never have enough of the sauce and usually ask for a top up.
Below are the rest of the indicated vegetarian options on the menu, which include a rice bowl and a stir-fried pho option both consisting mainly of mushrooms and tofu:
The Green Mango Salad isn’t vegetarian, but was indicated as being able to be made vegetarian on the lunch menu outside, so I expect one may easily order a vegetarian version (without the dried shrimp) though I have not personally tried doing so myself. What do you mean by Vegetarian? Okay, now let’s go into making it clear which options are truly vegan. Wrap & Roll employs two categories: ‘No Meat’ Vegetarians and ‘No Meat’ Vegatarian + Vegetarian Sauce. The first category, which encompasses all the items labelled with the vegetarian sign plus all salads with prawns removed refer to options which do not have visible pieces of meat/seafood in them BUT still contain animal-derived sauces like oyster sauce and fish sauce. The second is the truly vegan category which is limited to just the Stir-fried Pho Noodles with Mushroom and Tofu (above), Vegetarian Samosas and Green Mango Salad (with vegetarian sauce). I suspect you have to tell them specifically not to use fish sauce for the latter else they might think just removing the dried shrimp will be enough. If you’re one of those that want to have garlic and onion excluded, you will be further limited to just the stir-fried pho and mango salad. Also note that out of the chilli condiments provided at the table, the red chilli paste is not vegan as it contains fish sauce, while the pickled green chillis are safe. I don’t really recommend them though as they thoroughly set your mouth on fire! Try at your own risk but consider yourself warned!
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All in all, I really like the fresh flavors of Wrap & Roll especially their use of herbs and fresh vegetables in their menu items. Though not particularly offering a wide variety of vegetarian/vegan options to choose from, it is nice to know that they do have decent standards.
Since finding out that the rice crepe roll uses fish sauce, I’d probably steer clear from it in the future and either order something else or go somewhere else to eat. I hope this post helped informed you vegetarians/ vegans out there about whats really in the food, or if you’re not, helped YOU determine if you’d like to bring your vegetarian/vegan friends there. Anyone tried out any of their vegetarian options besides the Rice Crepe Roll? Do comment and let me know how your dining experience was below!