Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Freshroll

Update Review, October 2015

You may recall that a while back, I needed takeout for my group at work, and picked up springrolls and taro chips from FreshRoll.

I recently returned again, when I needed a quick takeout option and I was in the area.  Since I've reviewed Freshroll before, I'll skip all the general details this time, and focus just on the cuisine I had on this visit.

I've dubbed Freshroll the Chipotle/Subway of Vietnamese food: fast casual, customizable, made to order.  They should totally market themselves like this, right?
Single Roll, Garlic Shrimp.  $3.95.
Since I don't like pork, chicken, or tofu, I went for the only other option: shrimp.  I also added
lettuce, bean sprouts, pickled vegetables, jalapeño, scallions, and of course, crispy goodness.

My roll this time was even larger than on my previous visit.  Last time, I remarked at how it wasn't overloaded with vermicelli noodles, but this time, it was.  I'd guess that 50% of its girth was the noodles.  They were flavorless, slimy, and I really didn't care for them at all.

The other veggies were all fine, fresh, crisp, but otherwise unremarkable.  I again loved the crunch from the "crispy goodness", but again, it was just a fried thing, indistinguishable as a scallion.

The shrimp were a bit fishy, and again, not garlic as advertised.

I choose my favorite two of the sauces again, Vietnamese vinaigrette and sweet & sour chili.  The vinaigrette was not very good this time, it didn't have any real flavor to it.  The sweet and sour chili sauce was again basically sweet chili sauce with a bit of kick.  I liked it the best.

Overall, the roll was not nearly as good as my first visit, and I wouldn't get another.

I realized once I left that I was charged the standard price for a single roll, $3.95.  Garlic shrimp should have cost $1.25 extra, and the crispy goodness should have been another $0.50, so it should have been $5.70.  $5.70 for a single roll most certainly would not have been worth it, but hey, I got a bargin.
Close up of the roll.
The roll was constructed much better on this visit than the last however.  It didn't fall apart, and had a very large amount of shrimp, far more than on my previous visit.

I think that given the type of establishment that Freshroll is, with a large varied staff, consistency is not their strong point.
Single Roll, Grilled Chicken.  $3.95.
On another visit, for Ojan, I got the chicken.  I didn't try it, but he liked it.

The roll was assembled with much greater care than my previous visits, and was packaged in a more appropriate container, sized for one roll.  Previously, when I've picked up a single roll, they have put it in a container meant for three rolls, and it has gotten a bit discombobulated on the way home as it has rolled all around.  The smaller container fit it much better.  I think this is probably the box for the sandwich, and other staff never thought of using it?

Anyway, well made, same mediocre product. 

Original Review, August 2013

For one week, I was tasked with providing nightly dinner for my co-workers.  Being me, I didn't just order delivery pizza or Thai food.  I like pizza and thai, but, I don't like it soggy and cold.  Delivery was obviously the easiest option, but I didn't want to limit myself to only places that deliver, so I also looked into takeout in the area.  My goal was to find something that was satisfying, but didn't need to be served warm.  I also really didn't just want sandwiches or salads, this was dinner after all.

The week before I was about to embark on this adventure, I walked by the Metreon and saw Freshroll.  I hadn't ever been, but it did sound interesting.  The concept is build your own Vietnamese rolls, sandwiches, and bowls.  Hot rice or noodle bowls wouldn't be appropriate for our dinner, but the rolls sounded like a perfect fit.  Yelpers seemed pretty happy with it.

You can order ahead online, or just walk in. First, you pick you style.  For cold options, there are the rice paper rolls, salad, or bahn mi.  Since I didn't want sandos or salad, I went for the rolls.  If I wanted something hot, I could have also picked a rice bowl, a vermicelli noodle bowl, or pho.

Next, you pick proteins.  Choices aren't plentiful, but there should be something for everyone: lemongrass pork, grilled chicken, garlic shrimp, or crispy tofu.  The only real thing missing was a red meat option.

Then it gets harder, you have to pick your veggies.  There are tons of options: lettuce, bean sprouts, bell pepper, carrots, cilantro, cucumbers, jalapeno, pickled veggies, pineapple, scallions, basil.  Luckily, they offer a combo called "the standard" if you can't decide.  For an additional fee, you can also add avocado or "crispy goodness" ... more on that later.

And then, my favorite part, sauces! Peanut sauce, citrus ginger, sweet and sour chili, or vinaigrette.

A side of taro chips and a few drinks round out the menu.  Sadly, no desserts are available.

Since I was ordering for a big group, I probably should have ordered online in advance.  It was a bit overwhelming trying to keep track of everyone's orders and get them all straight.  The staff were reasonably nice, but did seem slightly annoyed with me.  I did only get 9 rolls, I didn't think that was too many!

Overall, Freshroll was good, but not outstanding.  I love to customize things, so I really appreciated that aspect, but none of the ingredients or flavors were that memorable.
Thai Iced Coffee.  $2.95.
They had Thai Iced Coffee, but strangely, not Thai Iced Tea.  Darn!  I always love the sweet milky goodness.  Other fresh beverages were lychee sweetened black tea and limeade.  They also had bottled beverages, including a slew of different types of coconut water.

I settled for the coffee as a consolation prize.  It was decent, nice coffee flavor, not too sweet.  $2.95 for a drink this size seemed fine.
Housemade Taro Chips. $1.95.
I love taro, and crunchy salty things, so I was excited by the single side on the menu, housemade taro chips.

They were ok, nicely crispy, good sized, not broken up.  But they were a bit too oily for my liking, and under-salted.  I'm not sure how much I would have liked them plain, but I liked dunking them in the assorted sauces I had for my rolls.

The package was perhaps a bit small for $1.95, but you wouldn't really want more.
Assorted dipping sauces.
They have 4 different sauces to choose from for the rolls.  When asked which one I'd like, and I very quickly asked for all 4.  How could you ever pick just one?  Particularly when this was for a big group?
  • Grandma's Peanut Sauce: Hmm.  I usually love peanut sauce, but this wasn't good.  It somehow wasn't very ... peanuty?  It was thick, gloopy, and had no real flavor.  My least favorite by far.
  • Sweet & Sour Chili: Pretty standard sweet chili sauce, although it had a bit of heat.  Another thing I got hooked on in Sydney, sweet chili sauce!  Not sure why it said "sour" though, as it was sweet and spicy, and not at all sour.  I didn't love it with my roll, but I liked it with the taro chips, and with assorted other things I dunked in the leftovers.
  • Tangy Citrus Ginger: Well, it was citrusy, and gingery, but definitely not my thing.  The flavors were strong, and exactly as advertised.  Least favorite.
  • Vietnamese Vinaigrette: This was nice, light, with good flavor.  The fish sauce shone through.  Very good for dipping the rolls.  For the rolls, my favorite by far.
Assorted Rolls.  3 for $7.95 or $3.95 each.
Since I was ordering for a group, they nicely labelled the boxes to keep them all straight.

I ordered 4 chicken rolls, 2 pork, and 3 shrimp, mostly with the standard fillings, but slightly customized.

Of course I wanted to try several options, so we cut some of the rolls in half to be able to try more.  Since I don't like chicken or pork, I only tried the shrimp.  I started with the "standard": vermicelli noodles, lettuce, bean sprouts, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeño, and pineapple.  At the advice of the Yelpers, I added on some "crispy goodness", aka, a fried scallion, to another, and then I threw some pickled veggies into another.

I was amused by the pricing of 3 for $7.95 or $3.95 each.  I only needed 8 rolls, but I got 9 since it made no sense to get two singles.  Shrimp is $2 extra, and a "crispy goodness" is $0.75 extra.

The price for 3 seemed fine, although the shrimp being a full $2 more was a bit surprising, and $0.75 for a single piece of fried scallion seemed a bit much.  But the regular set of 3 was totally reasonable.
Shrimp falling out.
I was not impressed with the roll job.  They were all different sizes.  Most were falling apart and things were breaking through and sticking out all over the place.  Really sloppy.

But the fillings were fresh and decent quality.  The shrimp was advertised as "garlic shrimp", but I certainly didn't taste the garlic. That said, the shrimp was fine, although they were a smaller size than I was expecting.  The veggies were all crisp and fresh.  The jalapeño certainly added some kick, which was nice.  The pineapple is not something I'd normally put, but it was kinda nice.  I'd probably skip it in the future though.  I was glad there weren't many vermicelli noodles, I always get annoyed when my rolls are loaded up with noodles.

The "crispy goodness" did live up to its name.  Not worth $0.75 perhaps, but it added a totally delightful crunch.  I wouldn't have known it was scallion of course, as it was mostly just fried stuff.  But, recommended.

Overall, these were fine, and I'd eat them again, but I wouldn't go out of my way for them.  Mostly I just wish they had some different proteins, as none were my favorites.
Freshroll Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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