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. New West just scored.