he Gist: The first restaurant for husband-and-wife team Anh Nguyen and Kwan Sit specializes in Vietnamese fresh rolls.
Nguyen and Sit who "always did rolls at home with the kids. They could put whatever they want in," says Sit. The four young children liked the roll-your-own concept so much, they’d even eat them for days in a row.
Toying around with the concept for ten years, they discovered the perfect location while scouting a space for another business. The Junction spot was ideal for the casual restaurant.
Grub: Their motto is "Simple. Fresh. Delicious."
"This is our street food back home," says Nguyen. She developed the rolls from what she was making at home, adding variety and putting her own spin on it. "Every family has their own recipe," she says.
"Other places don't do much with sauces. It’s usually just hoisin." Here, Nguyen has created three different sauces to be paired with specific rolls. Everything is made in house, except for the noodles, rice paper and ice cream.
The menu boasts eight different fresh rolls range from vegetarian – tofu, avocado, sweet potato and Japanese pumpkin – to seafood and meat – prawn and pork, prawn cake, chicken and grilled pork. They come one or three per order.
Should you wish for a more hand’s-on approach, there are RYOR (Roll Your Own Rolls) Platters (1 person/$15.99, 2 ppl/$29.99), where you can choose a protein of either grilled sausage or tofu, and do them yourself.
Bun Thit Nuong ($10-$12) allows you to have a "naked roll" – all the contents of a fresh roll without the rice paper wrap. There are also two salads – Lotus (sm $6.50/lg $10) and Mango (sm $8/$12) – two soups (chicken and spicy beef) and four desserts.
Eighty percent of the menu is gluten-free. New features will be added, including a veggie pho and possibly deep-fried egg rolls.
Libations: With no liquor license, you can whet your whistle in the meantime with fresh juices, pop, San Pellegrino, water and Ca Phe Sua Da - Vietnamese iced coffee.
Deets: The name Ro House comes from "ro" meaning clear, like rice paper. The restaurant seats 20 guests. Take out is also available.
Fixtures & Fittings: The former health spa was transformed via a lot of personal, homey touches. A large counter the couple previously used was put in and a drop ceiling added.
Additional changes came via bamboo baskets with menu items written in Vietnamese on them, and photos of Vietnam hung on the wall. Cheery red lamps and a mix of red and blue chairs add a shot of colour.
Off the Menu: All rolls have a combination of rice vermicelli, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, bean sprouts, fried shallots, roasted sesames seeds, cilantro and mint leaves. Japanese pumpkin and avocado are the only rolls that forgo mint leaves for pirella leaves. The sweet potato and Japanese pumpkin leaves out the rice vermicelli to make room for more veggies.
Trai Bo Rolls – Avocado (1/$3.25, 3/$8.25) The first thing you’ll notice is the freshness of ingredients. Paired with a creamy homemade peanut sauce and added touches such as roasted sesame seeds,
Goi Cuo Rolls - Prawn & Pork (1/$3, 3/$7.50) This prawn and pork is different than the usual classic roll, thanks to sumptuous pork belly that’s not too fatty. What a pairing.
Dan Hu - Tofu (1/$3, 3/$7.50) Healthy and tasty - the best combination.
The house special - Bun Bo Hue - Spicy Beef Noodle Soup ($12) is the perfect antidote to our Canadian winter. Thinly sliced beef and puffy marshmallows of crispy tofu bob next to green and white onion slices in a rich lemongrass broth with a hearty kick. Thick rice noodles called bun bo hue noodles are the traditional choice here and are mighty filling.
Che Dau - Black Eye Peas Pudding ($3.50) Made in-house, this creamy, chewy, transformative pudding is the sweetest way to consume legumes this season.
How Cool is This?! Cho, a little Vietnamese Marketplace, is set up across from the counter, with ingredients used in the restaurant that are available for purchase. Items include fish sauce, various hot sauces, Café du Monde chicory coffee, wooden chopsticks, rice noodles and Vietnamese coffee cups.
At the Stove: Cathy Tran
FOH: Kwan Sit
Head Honchos: Anh Nguyen & Kwan Sit
Visiting Hours: Wed to Mon 11:30am - 8pm
Map It: 3064 Dundas St. W. (just west of High Park Ave.)
Phone It In: (416) 767-7655
Check out our Facebook page for more photos.