They’re fast. They’re affordable. They’re fairly low-calorie, so long as you don’t order extra peanut sauce for the spring rolls at newly opened Fresh Rolls in downtown Tacoma.
The quick-service Vietnamese restaurant opened April 8 at 823 Pacific Ave. in a high-profile restaurant space in downtown Tacoma’s dining and nightlife district. For years, it was India Mahal, although it most recently was a short-lived Herfy’s restaurant.
Here’s a quick look at the new restaurant specializing in Vietnamese spring rolls (also called summer or salad rolls). Those are rolls wrapped up in rice paper and filled with noodles, veggies, chopped herbs, and add-ins, such as barbecue pork, shrimp or tofu. It’s this paper’s policy to skip criticism of food and service during a restaurant’s first month, which is why the focus here is on descriptions of food and concept.
Rolls: The focus, as the name suggest, is spring rolls with noodles, herbs and various add-ins. There are salmon, shrimp, beef, barbecue pork, tofu and chicken. All rolls are sold in pairs for $4.99.
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Peanut sauce: My big peeve are those pho joints that sell spring rolls that are bigger than the container of peanut sauce, which results in a major mess when you’re forced to drizzle, rather than dip. Not so here. At Fresh Rolls, they’ve designed the rolls to dip perfectly so that you can easily jam the end of the roll into the container to scoop out the last of the sauce. My second peeve? One dish of peanut sauce for two rolls. At Fresh Rolls, you get two containers of peanut sauce — one for each roll.
Informed eating: Yes, that’s a calorie count listed on the menu, one of few restaurants in the area that gives diners that kind of intel — which I really appreciate as a hired belly who ate about 9,000 calories at the Washington State Spring Fair last week. Surprisingly, the tofu roll is listed as the most caloric at 166 calories.
Also on the menu: Banh mi sandwiches ($4.99); cold noodle salads ($5.99-$8.99); rice bowls ($6.99-$8.99) and four choices of pho ($4.95-$5.49).
Second outpost? Yes, this is an outpost of Fresh Rolls in University Place, which opened in January 2014.
Downtown: 823 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma; 253-572-9064.
University Place: 7320 40th St. W., University Place; 253-460-2958.