THE Chook normally doesn’t review franchises, but since Roll’d is the first eatery to open in the FOMO complex in the redeveloped Kings Square, we made an exception.
There was an eerie quiet as my wife and I walked past the nearly-completed Walyalup Civic Centre in the square, with developers Pindan going into administration this week and sub-contractors deserting the site.
But things picked up as we turned onto William Street and I spied a hungry line of people queuing outside Roll’d, which specialises in Vietnamese street food.
I’ve never seen so many tailored shirts and suit trousers in Fremantle in my life – they were clearly staff from the two state government departments that moved into Kings Square.
Freo going all suit and tie? What’s the world coming to? Hippies revolt!
It’s good news for Roll’d though, which will have a guaranteed customer base if it gets things right.
I really like Roll’d’s logo and the fresh, minimalist look of its store. Some franchises have a clinical feel, but this teetered nicely between corporate and indie, with a pretty mural of an Asian girl in the seated area. The ceiling was festooned with colourful lanterns and the seating was comfortable and didn’t feel fast-foody.
On to the food – Roll’d’s trademark dish is its rice paper rolls, or “soldiers” as they call them, so we got an assortment to try from the display counter at the front of the store.
All the rolls were delightfully thin and very soft, with a thatch of rice noodles adding texture.
The highlight was the soft shell crab ($4.70) which had a satisfying crunch and a sweet, fishy reprise.
The avocado and cucumber complemented the crab and it all tasted super fresh.
The lemongrass beef ($4.20) came a close second with the fried shallots and fresh herbs supporting the strong burst of citrus.
I should have probably had the poached chicken breast and avocado soldier ($4.20) first, as it had a more subtle flavour, but thankfully the accompanying tub of chilli mayo helped liven things up. It was nicely balanced with a subtle latent heat.
Roll’d also did a range of noodle soups, steamed buns and salads, but I fancied one of their Bánh Mì baguettes.
I went for the BBQ chicken ($9.50) and wasn’t disappointed.
The light baguette was lightly toasted with a crunchy exterior and soft fluffy middle.
The star was the BBQ chicken, which had a strong, chargrilled tang that was utterly delicious.
Packing the baguette out was some pickled carrot, cucumber, fresh coriander and soy sauce.
I imagine these will be a hit with the state government crew come winter time.
My only gripe – the baguette could have been bigger and it wouldn’t have filled me up on its own. Same with the rice paper rolls and you really need two to three to fill you up, but they were only about $4 each.
It’s good to see dining at FOMO get off the ground and Roll’d is a solid start.
10 William Street, Fremantle
by STEPHEN POLLOCK