Sweet! Cookie dough eggroll at Bluphies.
I have an obsession with egg rolls. Not regular egg rolls, though they are delicious. No, I'm fixated on weird egg rolls. Egg rolls that aren't really egg rolls at all, but are a nod to the original.
The veteran of the lineup is served at Bluephies on Monroe Street: The cookie dough egg roll.
Bluephies has been serving cookie dough egg rolls ($6.29 per order) for a long time now. They're as sweet as you'd expect a deep fried tube of sugar, chocolate and butter to be, and about as gooey. You can't eat them with your hands because they're too hot from the fryer, and they'd spill molten cookie dough all over anyway. Dangerous, but alluring, like a James Bond villain. Order a cocktail, strong as you like, to cut through the richness.
AJ Bombers used to run a special egg roll night promotion at the Madison location, and owner Joe Sorge says it will return before the holidays this year. (Think "turkey and gravy rolls," he told me.) Until then, the zingy buffalo chicken variety ($5.50 for three) will do the trick, and the blue cheese dip is thick and cool. Ranch is available too, if you're into that kind of thing.
Unfortunately, not all weird egg rolls are created equal. I had high hopes for the Reuben egg rolls at Capital Tap Haus on State Street (I love a good Reuben). But my first order ($6.75) was forgotten until my burger had already come out. Second, they were plated with lackluster presentation and a plastic tub of Thousand Island dressing. Third, the filling was gummy and featureless, and lastly, the order was skimpy for the price.
Instead, take a trip out to Middleton, the land of Capital Brewery, and grab yourself some corned beef and cabbage rolls at the Claddagh at Greenway Station.
The order comprises three hefty rolls ($8), split in half, which is handy when you're dealing with steaming-hot corned beef, potato and melted cheese. A generous drizzle of Thousand Island dressing decorates the plate. In these rolls, the filling is discernible, appreciable on a component-by-component basis; you get a cube of potato, then the chewy bite of corned beef and a little stretch of cheese. It's the classic egg roll experience you'd expect, in an Irish style you probably never knew you wanted.
Williamson Street's Ha Long Bay has a superpowered egg roll with some pretty high-profile fans. The Goi Cuốn Chả Giò -- better known as the AP10, its menu code -- is a Vietnamese egg roll wrapped up in a cilantro-heavy Vietnamese spring roll ($4 for two). It's like the Incredible Hulk, a skinny unassuming thing hidden deep inside a bulging, greenish monster.
National food media celebrity Andrew Zimmern has sung its praises, in a web-only bonus segment from Zimmern's 2013 Bizarre Foods America episode set in Wisconsin. "It's really sick-good," Zimmern says, and trust me when I say that's a compliment.
The newbie eggroll version comes courtesy of O.S.S., the sausage purveyor on Regent Street. O.S.S. shifts its menu around regularly, so its pitch-perfect egg roll sausage comes and goes. It's there now, though: a Chinese-style pork sausage ($5.50) complete with funky sauteed cabbage, hot mustard and fried wonton strips. The lightly toasted bun changes the experience somewhat, but the tastes and textures are otherwise all right there for the eating.
Josh Boll, co-manager at O.S.S., told me that the egg roll sausage would be around "through the month of November." Even after it does go away, rest assured that its eventual return is fairly likely. Sadly, that's not true for the late, great cheesesteak rolls at the shuttered Big Red's Steaks.
I try to not dwell on weird egg rolls of the past, but like I said, I'm a little obsessed.