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TGI Fry-Day: Spring Rolls at Cong Ly

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[Photographs: Max Falkowitz]

When you find a spring roll that's more crisp than greasy and actually full of flavor, it's cause for celebration. So break out the party hats and head down to Cong Ly in Chinatown, a Vietnamese joint with friendly staff and a good command of the fryer.

The spring roll ("Cha Gio"; $4 for 4 and $7 for 8) wrappers are flaky and deeply crisp, with blistered layers that make for a hefty crunch. There's just a little grease, enough to make the wrapper glisten but still feel light. Inside is a ground pork filling mixed with mushrooms and vermicelli noodles—a little sweet, a lot porky, and plenty savory. The texture is compact but a little loose, like a freshly stuffed sausage.

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The wrapper stays crisp and hot even after dousing in nuoc cham (diluted fish sauce with sugar), so you may want to consider ordering the Bun Cha Gio ($5) for a full meal. Chopped spring rolls come in a bowl of thin rice noodles, bean sprouts, scallions, peanuts, and some fresh herbs. Toss on the sauce, and maybe some chili paste, and you have yourself a full meal that balances fried excess with cool, clean flavors. Like a salad—almost.

Cong Ly

124 Hester Street, New York, NY 10002 (map)
212-343-1111

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the editor of Serious Eats: New York. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.

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