Rice Paper Scissors is a small South East Asian hawker-style eatery tucked away in Liverpool Street. I call it ‘Longrain-lite’, due in part to the postage stamp sized venue and its menu of Vietnamese and Thai street food.
We visited Rice Paper Scissors early on a Saturday night, when it was rammed to the rafters and with a waiting list to boot (they don’t take bookings). Even the tiny pavement tables were prime real estate in the shivery winter’s evening (thank goodness for the outdoor heaters). Indoors there was a mixture of seating, all high stools either at the bar or at communal tables.
The menu was easy to navigate – sharing plates on one side, booze on the other. They have a ‘get plattered for 2’ where you can choose any of the 5 sharing dishes for $45, which is a great way to scope out the menu. If you have a large appetite like mine then sharing 5 dishes will be *just* enough to make you full. So you may need to add a sixth!
We ordered our five dishes with our perky waitress and the food came quickly. It’s all business getting tables turned over quickly with such high demand for tables.
We started off with Son-in-law eggs which were not the whole eggs I was expecting but fried eggs sunny-side up with the yolks mingling with the chilli caramel dressing and crunchy shallots. Great punchy flavours but a real mess to eat.
Next up, betel leaf with fresh crab and peanut salad with a chilli caramel dressing. A sweet and spicy combination and while not as refined as the signature dish at Longrain, it will put fire in your belly.
We quite enjoyed the duck salad laab ped with lettuce leaves cupping a mixture of minced duck, roasted rice, herbs and a fiery dressing which wasn’t too fiery actually.
Better still were the sticky lamb ribs marinated in Mekong whiskey, the only sticking point (haha) was that there wasn’t too much meat on the bones and it was a little on the dry side. Loved the deep molassy flavours though.
The least successful dish was the Cambodian steamed fish amok, a sort of fish paste marinated in coconut cream and spices which again was not spicy enough for my palate.
It’s easy to see why Rice Paper Scissors is popular. It’s fun and convivial, with finger-lickin’ high flavour impact food that goes perfectly with a cocktail or three. Rice Paper Scissors continues the tradition of ‘cheap and cheerful’ food that characterises Chinatown, while still providing a funky dining experience.
Plus for a nightcap you can even skip next door to laneway bar veteran Double Happiness.