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Fresh wrapped


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

About this time of year, all thoughts turn to dieting, reversing the clock on all those chocolate chip, gingerbread, sugar and shortbread cookies devoured at the office, all the holiday nights out with friends you see but once or twice a year and dense party fare.

It'll soon be a new year, another chance for a new you. But are you serious?

Let Wraps & Rolls be your test. We all say we want to eat more healthy and nutritious foods and that we want to lose 10 or 20 pounds, then often avoid eating the very foods that will help get us from Fattyville to Body Beautiful.

It's quite revealing to sit inside the cafe and watch passers-by stop to read the menu posted on the windows, only to waddle off toward dessert or burger havens.

It has to do with mindset. In a mall, patrons are in fun, decadent mode. It might be different downtown, where office workers looking for a quick, inexpensive meal are more likely to be in responsible mode.

I have to admit I was less than thrilled by the prospect of a wrap, which I associate with the trend from a few years back, of flour tortillas filled mostly with rice, a carb-loaded option I avoided as much as possible.

But here, the rice paper wraps are fresh and light, full of perky veggies and lean meat options. Owner Laarni Raymolete has re-envisioned and reinvented the wrap to resemble its Southeast Asian, rather than TexMex, counterpart.

“;I always loved eating Vietnamese shrimp rolls and figured out that other local ingredients also taste good in it. I made them for my family and friends and they all loved it, and no one else was doing it.”;

She opened her first Wraps & Rolls in the Liliha Square Shopping Center in the summer of 2007, and temporarily closed to set up at a new location at Ward Centre, between Satura Cakes and Crazy Shirts. She assures Liliha customers that she'll be back in that spot soon, once she finishes training new staffers at Ward.

I'd like to think, eating as much as I do, that I eat more healthfully than the next person because I'm hyper aware of the fat content of food. But in reality, I love fatty foods — preferring it to sugary foods — as much as the next person. And I think a wrap without a little fat would make me feel sad.

               

     

 

WRAPS & ROLLS

        Ward Centre » 593-7553

        Food ;*;*;*;1/2

        Service ;*;*;*

        Ambience ;*;*;1/2

        Value ;*;*;*;*

        Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays Cost: About $3 per wrap
       

Ratings compare similar restaurants:
        ;*;*;*;* - excellent
        ;*;*;* - very good
        ;*;* - average
        ;* - below average

       

What makes these healthy combinations of rice vermicelli, lettuce and vegetables ultimately satisfying is Raymolete's dressings, such as a creamy wasabi spread that accompanies the Simply Smoked Salmon wrap ($3.30; $3.60 with avocado). Dressings are served in little cups on the side so you maintain control over how much you ingest.

She's remade a lot of familiar local dishes to be wrap-friendly, like a wrap that intends to capture the flavors of a Chinese chicken salad, made with deli turkey ($2.95) instead. Cilantro, slivered almonds and a tangy mandarin dressing give it its characteristic flavor, and all that's missing are the won ton pi chips.

Classic bacon, lettuce and tomato ($3; $3.30 with avocado) are also represented, with classic ranch dressing on the side.

I didn't get to try the Teri-Spam wrap with mayo-sesame dressing ($2.75), but I'm betting the Spam is enough to carry the day.

Crab wraps are made with surimi, which you could probably guess from the $2.90 price. A single wrap works as a meal, so these probably represent one of the most inexpensive meals you can get in this town.

If all this still seems too healthful for you, try an order of the tortilla melts, bubbling with gooey, cheesy richness. Spinach and artichoke ($3.60), creamy spinach and bacon ($3.75), and pepperoni and basil ($3.75) pairings are good on the spot or for reheating later.

Also offered are hand-rolled sushi, but, strange to say for a local girl, I'm just not that fond of white rice. They do have a hapa (brown plus white rice) option, but I didn't notice that until after I left. These little bundles, about 4 inches by 2 inches in size, are $1.60 to $1.95 apiece, filled with the same meat and seafood selections offered with the wraps.

And crisp jicama sticks ($2.20) are offered as an un-fry option with your choice of dressing for dipping.

Wash it all down or have a dessert of smoothies, such as a Blushing Wahine ($2.90) using strawberry syrup, or better yet, the Hana Buttah Days, an old-fashioned chocolate malt smoothie using vanilla ice cream ($3.30), a wicked reward for having polished off your veggies.

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Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).