by Andrew Morrison | Andrew Wong officially announced this morning that he will soon finish up at the original downtown location of Wild Rice. The trailblazing restaurateur opened the socially and environmentally conscious “Modern Chinese” eatery at 117 West Pender St. off Abbott St. back in 2001, serving ethically sourced cuisine informed by his heritage and pairing it with local wines and original cocktails. The spirit of the restaurant (a founding member of Ocean Wise and Green Table) will, of course, continue to live on at its new location in New Westminster’s increasingly awesome River Market. The restaurant officially closes its doors on January 31st.
With Wong’s announcement out of the way, we can now tell you that he accepted an offer from restaurateurs Andrey Durbach and Chris Stewart (see The Sardine Can, La Buca, Pied-A-Terre) before Christmas. The well respected pair take possession on February 1st and are joined in ownership this time around by Michel Durocher, who has been part of the company since long before he started managing The Sardine Can (back to the old Parkside days).
Together, they hope to transform the 2,500 sqft space into a cheffish gastropub/tavern of serious sway. We can expect a darker, woodier, warmer aesthetic, which is to say that it it won’t look remotely the same as Wild Rice when it open this Spring (they’re crossing their fingers for April/May). “It’s a complete overhaul,” says Stewart. The only thing that they’re keeping is the length of the bar. When I asked Durbach for points of conceptual reference, he mentioned the Dominion and Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal and The Spotted Pig and Minetta Tavern in New York. Think 90 food primary seats and a menu of classics that have been amplified by good ingredients and furrowed brows of creativity. Though nothing about the place is really set in stone just yet, Durbach likes the idea of spinning high quality fish and chips, chicken karaage, an assortment of salads, perfect Côte de Boeuf (inspired the mainstay at the recently closed Boneta), toulouse bangers with whipped potatoes and craft beef-infused onion gravy, and so on. Durbach also says that he’d like to try and make the best burger in town, so you know…fancy, but not too fancy.
With the new Chambar re-opening in their new location just up the street at the same time and rumours of new eateries slated for the old Chambar location and the soon to move Medina next door, this looks like a solid pick-up from Durbach et al. Crosstown, it seems, is going to have a little renaissance (again).
They don’t have a name for the restaurant just yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as it’s set and update our readers as things progress because this is one to keep an eye on. In the meantime, there’s still time to pay your respects to Wild Rice and sneak in another delicious bowl of Rossdown chicken Kung Po.
The GOODS from Wild Rice
Vancouver, BC | Hankering for har gow? Desiring dumplings? Craving cha siu bao? Yearn no longer. Wild Rice Executive Chef Todd Bright, a master of the art of new-style dim sum, will be conducting three intimate cooking classes in dim-sum making at the newly opened Wild Rice in New Westminster’s River Market starting next Monday, December 5th. Subsequent classes will be held on the following two Mondays – December 12th and 19th respectively. Details after the jump… Read more
The first conceptual renderings from new Wild Rice architect/designer Marianne Amodio have just landed on my desk. They give some tasty flavour to our imaginings of what the anticipated restaurant – slated for the River Market in New West this Fall – is going to look like (learn more about it here). The drawings depict the lounge area: on the left is the open kitchen; straight ahead is what is being described to me as one of the ‘living walls’; and on the right is the bar. Top marks to Marianne for including a still of a monkey chilling in a hot spring on one TV above the bar and what appears to be a screen grab of Alexandre Burrows celebrating a goal on the other. Take a closer look after the jump… Read more
by Andrew Morrison | Wild Rice owner Andrew Wong has a new restaurant space in New West. It’s been a long time coming. Developer Mark Shieh (who is very much a stand up guy) has had Wong and Wild Rice on his radar to fill the restaurant space at the new and greatly improved River Market complex at Westminster Quay for about a year now. It’s been an on again, off again negotiation (I remember them talking about it on my roof last August), but that changed today, when hands were shaken and ground was finally broken.
The original Wild Rice (seen above) will remain as it ever was, still very pretty and pristine at the gates of Chinatown, while the new Wild Rice will enjoy some 3,600sqft of space in a ready-to-go lot of concrete and glass. Wong aims to fill it with 88 seats (12 at the bar, just like the original), plus another 30 or so on a leafy patio. Wild Rice with a freakin’ patio? Yes.
But there are other differences between the old and the new, too. While the River Market location will be similarly styled as the original with a cozy, modern vibe, the kitchen will be considerably larger and open to view from the dining room. Executive chef Todd Bright will be making the daily commute, and is invested as a partner. The increased size of his kitchen will deliver a menu 20% larger than the original’s. That means we can count on all the modern Chinese goodies that we can currently get at Wild Rice (eg. their kickass Kung Pao), plus a good deal of new and likely interesting dishes that at this point I can only guess at.
We still have to wait until the Fall to give it a whirl. Wong and Bright are aiming for an October opening, but you know how restaurants go. It could very well be Christmas or beyond before we can check it out, though I sincerely hope it’s kept on schedule.
Bottom line: New West just scored.
News from Scout supporter Wild Rice
Vancouver, BC | One ancient Chinese axiom states that if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing at least twice. Consider New Year’s for instance. There’s the ‘mainstream’ New Year’s Eve held on December 31st – a rather sedate affair by Chinese standards (elegant champagne, a few little noisemakers, steamers and silly hats). Since the idea of celebrating New Year is essentially a good one, why not do it again? This time hold a party that lasts 15 days and includes parades, dragon and lion dances, tons of noisy firecrackers and food, lots and lots of special food. Now, that’s a celebration worthy of welcoming a new year.
Hippety hoppety into the Chinese Year of the Rabbit (4709 if you’re counting) with a special prix fixe menu at Wild Rice. Proprietor Andrew Wong and Executive Chef Todd Bright have created a four-course dinner for the auspicious price of $38.88 (numeral three meaning ‘ever-growing’ and numeral eight meaning ‘good luck’) which will be available from February 2 to 13, 2011. Don’t worry, as much as many people enjoy the taste of rabbit, you won’t find Thumper on this menu. Instead, Wild Rice will donate 10 percent of the menu’s proceeds to support the Rabbit Rescue Shelter. Read more
News from Scout supporter Wild Rice
Vancouver, BC | Summer brings an abundance of fresh-from-the-farm/sea/producer ingredients bursting with flavour. It’s also a time when we naturally prefer to eat lighter fare. In recognition of this, Wild Rice’s new summer menu offers diners several different options to enjoy the season’s bounty.
“After the success of our Asian Heritage Month Platter that contained four ‘snack dishes,’ we thought that people might want to try mixing and matching a variety of flavours. In China there is a tradition of street food called dai pai dong where people wander from stall to stall trying different dishes – dumplings at one, soup at another, noodles in a different location and something sweet at a fourth. Our new summer menu reflects some of that sensibility,” says owner Andrew Wong.
Sharezies is the order of the day for summer dining. As in traditional Chinese restaurants, all dishes are designed to share and come with serving utensils and extra bowls. Food is served ‘family-style’ meaning that it comes out of the kitchen as soon as it is prepared. So if you like, you may roam the menu at will. There’s no set order to the food. It’s like eating at the Night Market but instead of physically moving from stall to stall you just meander through the menu. Read more
Wild Rice is now a proud member supporter of Scout. We will be publishing the award-winning restaurant’s news and press releases on our front page and hosting a page for them in our recommended list. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support. Click ahead to read on or jump directly to their Scout page here. Read more
Once or twice a week Scout poses 60 questions to a local who has made life in BC that much more interesting. They pick and choose which ones they’d prefer to answer, with a minimum response rate of 20. A Rorschach test, for sure…
Andrew Wong is the owner and front man at the award-winning Wild Rice, a restaurant that has seen good times and innovative, modern Chinese cuisine plated for the past seven years.
Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: Chinatown/Crosstown. Great restaurants within walking distance. Close to my son’s school. The neighbouhood is filled with diversity.
Default drink of choice: Negroni.
Drink you’ll never have again: Great Wall Cabernet.
The one place you’d move to: San Fran.
Favourite wine varietal: Pinot Noir
One thing you’d like to change about Vancouver: Homelessness.
Cheap place for dinner: Shiro and Jules Bistro. I like to refer to them as inexpensive as opposed to cheap.
Book you’re reading: Heat, by Bill Buford.
Last place traveled: Maui.
Biggest fear: Cliffhanging.
Place in BC that you love escaping to: Saltspring Island.
Under what circumstances would you join the army: If canada were to be invaded.
Your paternal grandfather’s personal story: I never met the man. He had 3 wives, 11 children and passed away long before my time.
Best bar stool in the city: Gotham.
What are you proud of: Staying open for 7+ years
The thing that makes you the angriest: People that are capable of working yet choose to ask others for money.
Saddest thing about Vancouver: Panhandlers.
Most challenging part of owning a business: Staffing.
Talent you wish you possessed: Magic.
Musical instrument you long to play: Guitar.
Sport you gave up: Volleyball.
The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating: Deep fried chinese doughnut (yuah ja gwai) that goes with congee.
Somewhere within an hour of Vancouver that is worth checking out: Deep Cove.
The number of fist fights you’ve been in: 4.
The scariest situation you’ve ever been in: Confronting 2 burglars after hours in my restaurant.
Three things of no value that you will keep until you die: My son’s report cards, my comic books and my boy scout uniform.
How you waste time at work: Reading about wine.
The thing you wished people cared more about: Supporting local.
The dish you’re most proud of: Spaghetti with meat sauce, because it always make my son smile.
The thing that makes you the most nervous: Public speaking.
Town you were born in: Vancouver.
Old television shows you can tolerate re-runs of: Charlie’s Angels.
First memory: My green ball – hard as a rock and would not bounce.
Quality you admire most in yourself: Patience.
Album that first made you love music: The Beatles Rubber Soul.
Default junk food of choice: Cheezies.
The career path you considered but never followed: Acting.
Your top 3 films of all time: Braveheart, Salt of My Skin, Big Trouble in Little China.
The first three things you do every morning: Stretch, grab a breath of fresh air, then coffee.
The thing you’re addicted to: Chocolate.
Biggest hope: That my son will take on a moral fabric similar to my own.
Luckiest moment of your life: Meeting Louise, which lead to quiting smoking.
Favourite book as a child: Where The Wild Things Are.
Wild Rice is open 7 days a week (for dinner every night, lunch only on Fridays)
Sunday – Thursday: 5 p.m. to at least 11 p.m.
Friday: 11:30 a.m. to midnight
Saturday: 5 p.m. to midnight
Proprietor: Andrew Wong
Executive Chef: Todd Bright
Dining Room Manager: Kerri Clark
About Wild Rice
Wild Rice began as a simple thought from Andrew Wong. His wish was to create a socially conscious restaurant serving local cuisine with influences from his Chinese heritage.
The space is a blend of yin and yang, east and west, traditional and modern. As in traditional Chinese cuisine, the menu offers numerous dishes for sharing. Where they diverge from tradition is in the ingredients, presentation and style.
As a proud member of OceanWise, Green Table and Shark Truth, Wild Rice is committed to serving ingredients that are local, seasonal and sustainable. The wine list reflects a thoughtful selection of the best from BC and West Coast vineyards.
Yin/yang sensibilities inform every aspect of Wild Rice. Guests receive metal knives and forks (western, yang) along with bamboo chopsticks (asian, yin). The sharp geometric lines (yang) of the room and its furniture are softened by the effect of the curves (yin) in the bar and bolsters. The energy of the loft fire wall is balanced by the calming ice blue resin of the bar. Harmony prevails and guests instantly feel comfortable.