Once found just at Vietnamese restaurants, rice paper spring rolls have turned up at all kinds of eateries — and even the occasional convenience store counter. More recently, Jazmine Cafe (614 South Carrollton Ave., 504-866-9301) created a Vietnamese-Japanese hybrid.
Jazmine Cafe has been a fairly standard Vietnamese restaurant, serving pho, banh mi and a few more elaborate entree specialties. This summer, the restaurant added what looks like a sushi bar in the corner of its dining room, but this new addition isn't producing California rolls. Rather, it's the workstation for a new menu that melds spring rolls and sushi rolls, combining raw and cooked fish and other unconventional spring roll ingredients into rice paper wrappers.
The rainbow spring roll is layered with slices of raw salmon, tuna and yellowtail and filled with crabstick, but is bound by crisp lettuce and the familiar texture of fresh rice paper. Slices of avocado and mango go over a similarly composed caterpillar spring roll.
The spring roll menu lists 30 varieties, drawing on sushi bar staples like spicy tuna, barbecue eel, spicy tuna smelt roe and soft-shell crab. More in line with Vietnamese tradition, the "original spring" is filled with pork, shrimp and rice noodles, and a few are assembled with char-grilled beef, pork or chicken flavored with lemongrass. Vegetarian rolls feature jicama, tofu, seaweed salad, pineapple and strawberry.