We’ve been fans of Wild Rice since it opened way back in 2001. Over the years it has proven to be one of the most consistent restaurants in town, staying true to owner Andrew Wong’s original concept of a restaurant that was modern and open in design and outlook (both gastronomic and environmental) but true to his Chinese heritage. And as a founding member of Ocean Wise and Green Table, it has been a leader in sustainability since long before it was sexy. Behind the consistency is the chef, Todd Bright, whose passion for local product and unique preparations are deliciously evident on the plate, 7 nights a week. Wild Rice expanded this time last year by opening a new location in the revamped River Market out in New Westminister. Bright came on as a chef/partner in the new enterprise, which is to say we’re very grateful that he took time he couldn’t spare to answer the following questions…
Where did you go to school? Toowoomba, Australia.
If you had a motto, what would it be? Work hard, play harder.
What’s the thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating? I love chicken skin! I know lots of people are opposed to eating poultry skin for health reasons these days, but it’s the best part.
What ingredient grosses you out the most: We would never use this at Wild Rice, but you know what natural raspberry flavouring is made of right? Natural raspberry flavor, or castoreum, comes from the anal extracts of a North American beaver.
Default drink of choice: Beer — anything local and cold.
What are you the most proud of: I’m really proud of the team we have built at Wild Rice, and that we get to be part of the River Market renewal process.
What are you the least proud of: I’m the least proud of not being able to answer this question honestly.
Your favourite smells: Roasted chicken stock is pretty awesome.
Your least favourite smells: The smell of something burning. I hate the smell of something burning!
Your chef role models: Neil Perry, Tetsuya, and Marco Pierre White.
Your favourite sound: I really like the sound of a busy restaurant. The roar of the hood vents, sizzling pans, communication from my crew, laughter and chatter from the dining room. It’s music to my ears!
Your least favourite sound: Dropped cutlery. It pings through the entire restaurant. It’s horrible.
The best way to die: Fat, happy and with no regrets. 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
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.