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5 Roll-Shaped Asian Foods to Try Today

Mais oui, Brodard.
Mais oui, Brodard.
Photo by Edwin Goei

Every continent has its roll-shaped food, from the sweet and the savory, the canolli and the burrito. Asia is no different, but while the humble egg roll might be the continent's most well-known roll, it's spawned dozens of children because each Asian country literally went, "Why not take a spin on the thing?!"

Indonesia eats lumpia semarang, the Thai are cooking up po pia tod and the Malaysians are biting into popiah, and, all the while, the Chinese are grabbing flaky butter rolls for dessert.

Want some? You're in luck because lots of them can be found right in our own backyard.

Here are five different Asian rolls to try NOW.

5. Chả giò (rice paper egg rolls) Origin: Vietnam Where: Pho Lu (Garden Grove)

Note the thinner skin!
Note the thinner skin!
Photo by Calgary Reviews

Chả giò are fried rolls made (usually) with thin, delicate rice paper wrappers used for spring rolls, instead of the thicker flour-based wrappers used for Chinese egg rolls. They're filled with ground pork (sometimes other proteins), carrots, jicama, onions, glass noodles, mushrooms, and are fried to high levels of flakiness and crunchiness.

The rolls don't stop at the wrapper, though. In Vietnam, chả giò are served with fish sauce to dip and a plate of fresh herbs and greens to cut the oil.

4. Lumpia shanghai (miniature egg rolls) Origin: The Philippines, by way of Shanghai Eat this at: Sawali Grill Filipino (Anaheim)

Petite!
Petite!
Photo by Helga Weber

If you have ever been to a Filipino-American celebration (what are the chances, but hey), then you've probably seen lumpia shanghai. They're the smaller Filipino egg rolls lightly stuffed with meat, shellfish, or vegetables tied together with a little bit of egg. More petite than most egg rolls, lumpia are a lot easier to pop in your mouth -- and a lot less guilt inducing.

An import from, you guessed it, Shanghai, these lumpia are also traditionally served with Chinese sweet and sour sauce. Next time you show up at a Filipino American party (seriously, go to one), don't hesitate to grab as many rolls as you can -- they are way too fun to eat.   3. Turon (banana-filled snack/dessert roll) Origin: The Philippines Eat this at: Pinoy Pam's Best (Lake Forest)

Ain't it a beaut?
Ain't it a beaut?
Photo by dbgg1979

Turon, also known as lumpiang saging, is a Filipino dessert roll filled with thin banana slices, wrapped in standard egg roll wrappers and glazed to perfection with brown sugar. The fried roll tastes pretty close to a fried banana, but slightly sweeter and a little more delicate. Like lumpia shanghai, turon is a common contender at Fil-Am parties -- often found next to the sapin sapin (a purple mochi-like dessert) and the puto (steamed rice cake) tray. If you don't see it, well, everyone probably ate all of them already.

2. Dosa Origin: India Eat this at: Annapoorna (Irvine)

This is totally a roll.
This is totally a roll.
Photo by Kurisurokku

Okay, this is a little bit of a cop out because dosa isn't always roll-shaped, but Annapoorna rolls them and that's good enough for me. Dosa is a common street snack from South India, and unlike other types of egg rolls, it uses a soft wrapper, which is why it is often described as a rolled-up crepe. The wrapper is left to ferment for a few days before being served, resulting in a thin and light consistency. There are lots types of dosas, with fillings varying from egg bhurji to potatoes, but they're all usually dipped in spicy sambar or coconut chutney, adding spice and sweetness to the everyday dosa experience.

1. Gỏi cuốn Origin: Vietnam Eat this at: Brodard's Restaurant (Garden Grove)

Fresh! Like Spring!
Fresh! Like Spring!
Photo by Stuart Spivack

Actual spring rolls. Gỏi cuốn are fresh, mostly uncooked rolls made with vermicelli, protein, salad, herbs and rice paper. If you've ever eaten at Brodard, you've probably had the gỏi cuốn nem nướng, which is also stuffed with pork and a fried egg roll wrapper (for an extra bit of crunch).

Well, they make other kinds too, with shrimp, shredded pork, fish, and basically any other Vietnamese protein. The rolls are served with a sweet shrimp-based dipping sauce called tương chấm. Gỏi cuốn is the perfect roll for sauce enthusiasts because the sauce is just as important as the roll. Bad tương chấm? Bad time.

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