Stopping by this place for a pair of post-beach summer rolls and perhaps a papaya-mango smoothie is part of the Paia beach day ritual among my crowd. The rolls here are similar, ingredient-wise, to those of other establishments: rice vermicelli, tofu, fresh herbs and sprouts (whether clover or alfalfa, I am not sure). Yet the addition of avocado rockets these rolls to the top of my list. The place’s breezy aloha feel adds to its appeal, but since I am limited to this Southeast Asian burrito-esque dish here, I’ll have to go on about that at a later date. 65 Hana Highway, Paia.
This place is tucked away in a strip mall food court. I associate food courts in general with the sixth food group (plastics), and thus would never have thought to stop by were it not for a coworker’s suggestion. They have a pretty extensive vegetarian menu, so getting summer rolls sans shrimp was not a problem. The rolls here are rebels: they do not employ vermicelli and the tofu is cooked more thoroughly. I don’t mind the lack of noodles given my desire to limit my carbohydrate intake. In their starchy place was an array of veggies that included lettuce and carrots. The accompanying peanut sauce deserves mention. 270 Dairy Rd. #166 Kahului, 877-2400.
For some reason, summer rolls are listed on the appetizer page of most menus. Yet they tend to be served in portions large enough to constitute a meal. They may not look it, but the damn things are filling. Still, I have gotten raised eyebrows for ordering just the rolls. This place definitely did not skimp. Roll components here are more traditional, but given the recipe’s never-fail tendency, this makes for a successful roll. What adds to this dish’s ability to fill is the thick peanut sauce served alongside the two rolls. Bonus: you can concoct your own flavor using the array of sauces featured at the table; among them sriracha (the one with the rooster on the bottle). Spice-ay! 1280 S. Kihei Rd. #107, Kihei, 875-2088.
Even if it were not so proximal to my two places of work, Saeng’s would still make the list. They follow a similar formula to those listed above, only they cut theirs into smaller pieces. Here, they are nice enough to swap out shrimp for tofu even though tofu summer rolls are not listed on the menu, and they’ll whip up a mean cosmo for you if you ask nicely. The peanut sauce here works well; I was at no point tempted to dip my summer roll slices in my drink. 2119 Vineyard St. Wailuku, 244-1567.
In light of the current economic slump, I recognize that some readers may be reluctant to dine out. Unlike Mainlanders, we have summer roll components at our fingertips. While mainland grocery stores typically do not offer summer roll wrappers or rice vermicelli, they do here, and dirt-cheaply so. Proper summer roll construction involves said wrappers and cooked rice vermicelli, lightly sauteed tofu (or shrimp, I reluctantly concede), fresh cilantro/mint/basil, julienne carrots and your sprout-of-choice. Add or subtract ingredients to your liking. After you soak the wrapper in warm water, you basically follow the same protocol you would a burrito—remember to fold in the sides before you roll. As for sauce, I would spend a few bucks on a jar of peanut sauce (then again I’m strapped for time). Do not be discouraged if some of your finished product falls apart; forks exist for a reason. Ingredients available at grocery stores island-wide. MTW