Last night, my friends and I went to the new Rice Paper restaurant located at Leslie and Finch, inside Leslie Square Plaza. It is a new restaurant that just opened up about a month ago. It serves Vietnamese/Thai cuisine.
We got there nearly at 8pm, and we had to wait another 40 mins. for a table. The restaurant has a lounge area near the entrance for this reason. The couches were very comfortable to sit in, and they were also arranged in a pattern that allowed patrons to sit facing one another and chat while we wait. I really liked this touch. The 40 minute wait did not feel like it because we felt comfortable and cozy. This was a very nice touch.
The restaurant's interiors look very modern and very clean. By clean, I mean the view of the dining room from where you're sitting. The glass strips that divide the various sections of the dining room makes it look much roomier than it already is, being a big space. The glass strips also create a lot of optical illusions because of the reflecting light and images. Strangely, this creates a sense of privacy.
Unfortunately, the most important thing to a restaurant is not the appearance and the atmosphere, but the quality of the food. And Rice Paper's food is truly not worth the price ($20/person). Here's why:
1. "Bo Koh" - Vietnamese tomato and beef stew. The beef was so chewy, it was impossible to eat. This tells me that the chef doesn't know how to cook this cut of beef properly. Secondly, the soup in the stew did not taste anything like the authentic "bo-koh," which is made using a particular blend of spices. Without these spices, it will only taste like spicy tomato soup. This is my favourite stew of all stews, and I, needless to say, was tremendously disappointed.
2. "Bei-rgoong" - Shrimp wrap. This is another one of my favourites of Vietnamese cuisine. My family makes this occasionally, and I like to do the wrapping. When eaten fresh, the rice wrapping is soft, yet chewy. This restaurant "bei-rgoong" was not soft at all. It was, again, VERY CHEWY. This tells me that they were not made fresh.
3. "Chicken with Red Curry". The sauce was very good, excellent for dipping. They did not go cheap on the spices for this dish. The chicken was moist and succulent. The only drawback to this dish was that they put chicken wings in it, instead of meatier parts of the chicken. For a stew, that's a disappointment for me personally, but those who love chicken wings will love this dish.
NOTE: This dish comes with 1 small French baguette. To order the rice, it costs $1 extra. For another piece of baguette, it'll cost $1.50 extra.
4. "Thai Glass Noodles." This was the spiciest dish of all. That wouldn't have been bad at all, if not for the fishy tasting shrimps and squids. That tells me that they used very low quality seafood to make it. The seafood must have been the low-grade frozen type. I don't like seafood because of the fishy taste, and seafood that isn't fresh has a very strong odour of that fishy taste. This was the worst dish of all and that's why more than half of it was left uneaten on the table.
5. "Roat Pig's Neck with fake 'Fish Sauce'". This was one of the best dishes, but too bad it was only an appetizer. Thin strips of roast pork sat on a bed of lettuce with a fake "fish sauce." The FISH SAUCE is another major flop. It can't even qualify as fish sauce, which is the most basic dipping sauce to Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Like ketchup to western dishes, and soy sauce to Chinese dishes, the fish sauce must not be compromised.
6. The Drinks. Very tasty, but you can't go wrong with drinks.
For the service, it was quite good. The servers were all very cordial and accomodating.
Atmosphere and service: 4 stars out of 5.
Food: 2 star out of 5.