Oun Lido’s Shrimp Fresh Roll. Photo by Peggy Grodinsky

Sometimes a meal meets its moment, and when that happens, it can be magic. It happened to me last week during the heat wave when I stopped at Oun Lido’s in Portland for … well, I wasn’t sure what I was stopping for. I’ll get to that in a moment.

It happened like this: I was trudging through the Old Port in the heat of a very hot day, wondering why I’d never fixed the AC in my car, why the city doesn’t plant more trees to keep the sidewalks cooler, and why the 7 billion humans who share this planet still don’t take climate change seriously. Actually, I am giving myself too much credit. In fact, I was just hot and sweaty, limp and muddled.

I passed by Cheese Louise on Fore Street. The place was full of families. I like grilled cheese as much as the next gal – it’s a frequent fallback dinner when I am overscheduled and haven’t found time to grocery shop. Still, a grilled cheese sandwich when it’s scorching out? I don’t get it.

Then, the sign for Oun Lido’s materialized in front of me; I hadn’t been there before. I went inside, descended the few steps and read through the menu, trying to make a simple decision – what to eat for lunch (see “muddled”.) My eyes kept returning to Shrimp Fresh Roll. Was it simply the word “fresh” that beckoned? The fact the dish was chilled? The menu mention of shiso, a refreshing herb often described as Asian mint? (It is, by the way, in the mint family.)

Whatever the nudge, I put in my order, not quite realizing I was getting Cambodian spring rolls (or, as the case was that day, feels-like-height-of-summer rolls). Not 10 minutes later, two immaculate rolls filled with precise cuts of pearly shrimp, daikon radish, carrots and cucumbers, and also stacked lettuce, were set down before me on a pretty plate. They came with a nicely balanced peanuty dipping sauce made with lime, chili, brown sugar and fish sauce.

Truthfully, I wasn’t all that hungry. My stomach was apparently as wan as the rest of me. But that little dish of translucent Shrimp Fresh Roll, considerately cut in four, delicate, crunchy, juicy, fresh (as promised) – the very image of cool summer eating – revived me. Meal, meet moment.

Shrimp Fresh Roll, $14; Oun Lido’s, 30 Market St., Portland

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