An Interview with Paper Rice co-founder Jens Kristen- Learn about his new food concept!

An Interview with Paper Rice co-founder Jens Kristen- Learn about his new food concept!

Paper Rice Rolls and Bowls will be making its debut at the Food District at One Colorado. Paper Rice is a Vietnamese fast-casual with a twist, and we’re really looking forward to its opening at the end of the year. We chatted with co-founder Jens Kristen about his new food concept and learned a little bit about his favorite dishes and food inspirations.

What inspired your new PAPER RICE Spring Rolls and Bowls concept? 

“We found that traditional fast food can feel heavy and is sometimes messy. This gave us the idea for the build-your-own spring roll. Spring rolls are not just a healthy option, they are light, fresh and incredibly delicious (#lesscarbs). Especially because you choose what gets rolled inside the spring roll.”

You must be a foodie! Where or when did you develop your love for Vietnamese food (or food in general)?

“My partner Lee is the real foodie. She is constantly trying out new flavors, always looking for new culinary experiences. I was primarily brought up on Western cuisine, and Lee opened my eyes to the fantastically flavorful Vietnamese cuisine.”

How long have you been in the restaurant business? What’s your history with food/restaurants?

“Lee’s family has operated several food establishments in Orange Country as well as Alhambra. Lee has been integral to their success. PAPER RICE is a family-run business that includes the combined expertise of extended family.”

What makes Paper Rice different from other spring rolls and bowls concepts?

“It’s the first restaurant to offer spring rolls made your way. You get t chose what ingredients to roll inside the spring roll.”

We love the idea of DIY spring rolls- are there any limits to how you can customize your roll or bowl? What ingredients would you recommend?

“You can choose one protein, up to four herbs and vegetables and up to two additional toppings. You don’t want to overdo the amount of ingredients as it may overpower the flavor of your spring roll. My recommendation is nem nuong (Vietnamese charbroiled pork sausage) with lettuce, cucumber, coriander and pickled carrots. Then top it off with fried onion bits. And for a taste booster pick the house citrus garlic sauce.”

Are there vegan options for the vegans in town? 

“We offer the ideal vegan option! You can choose sesame soy tofu or simply keep your order all veggies. Our selection of herbs, pickled vegetables, and sauces give the meal a nice kick of flavor.”

And as for our carnivores, what kind of meat options will you have?

“We offer Vietnamese nem nuong, caramelized pork belly, charbroiled beef, turmeric fish, grilled lemongrass chicken and grilled garlic shrimp.”

We heard about your great selection of sauces. Where do you get your inspiration for the sauces and who is the lucky taste tester (we volunteer!)? 

“Our sauces come from years of experimentation and tasting. We also use old family recipes and give them a modern twist.”

What excites you the most about making a home here in Old Pasadena?

“I used to work in the Parsons building and for several years at Pasadena City College. With its historic architecture and European flair, I have always felt at home in Pasadena. We are very excited to share our culinary passion with the Old Pasadena community.”