With so many great authentic Chinese restaurants to choose from in the Lower Mainland it is no surprise to me that at least one restaurant would reinterpret what Chinese Cuisine means for a North American audience. When Andrew Wong opened up Wild Rice in 2001 at its original location in Tinseltown it was a breath of fresh air for the Chinese restaurant scene in Vancouver. Today, the original location is closed but Andrew & Executive Chef Todd Bright are killing it with their Wild Rice New Westminster location, right at the River Market along the Fraser River. The menu at Wild Rice takes inspiration from Andrew’s Chinese heritage while celebrating local ingredients. East meets West at Wild Rice in a fusion of culinary happiness.
Wild Rice could not be easier to find. It’s located within the River Market on the first floor with a great view of the Fraser River. If you live and spend time in New Westminster then you’ll know the River Market well. If you live outside of New West then take my advice and take the Skytrain to the New West Station. Walk across the bridge that spans Quayside Drive and you are at the River Market.
I’m here today because I’ve been exploring the New Westminster waterfront where in a few years a brand new Bosa Properties condo tower will be opening, Riversky. I can promise you that living next door to the River Market means that Wild Rice will be their neighbourhood restaurant, it would certainly be mine. Today I’m all by myself but that doesn’t bother me because it means I can sit at the Chef’s Bar and enjoy a glass of BC Wine while I watch Chef Todd Bright make my dinner. At Wild Rice all the wine is from BC and to start my night off I’m enjoying a glass from Moraine Estate Winery.
I’ve left my dining choices completely in the hands of Andrew and Todd. I trust them to mix it up and serve me some of their favourites. The first dish to arrive is a plate of Kangaroo Potstickers. Yes you heard me right I’m eating some “Roo”. What does it tastes like? Chicken of course. They are cooked perfectly with a nice crunchy exterior and packed full of tasty Kangaroo with a red wine and beet reduction for a dipping sauce.
The next dish to arrive is another tasty item from the appetizer menu, Curried Vegetable Steam Buns. OMG these are divine. I don’t think the photo does these justice with the Verde sauce on the left and a Sriracha sauce on the right these are heavenly. The steamed buns themselves are so light and fluffy, just like clouds while the root vegetable and curry filling brings you back down to earth. I’d nickname these Heaven and Earth Buns.
Chef Todd then serves me his favourite dish of the moment which is the Cauliflower Duo. Cauliflower prepared and served two ways with Beet Jello cubes. First there is a mash of cauliflower with turmeric paired with pan roasted Cauliflower with raisins and scallions. I highly recommend you eat this dish with a spoon because you want a taste of everything with each and every bite. I think this may be my favourite dish as well. It’s good to trust the Chef sometimes.
My last savoury dish is Seared Duck Breast with Shittake Mushrooms, Sweet Potato Gnocchi in a Blueberry Rooibus Jus. If you like Duck then you will love this dish. I do love Duck and was not disappointed. I was getting full though because the earlier dishes were so good I couldn’t pace myself. The gnocchi was delish and I loved the sear from being pan fried to add the extra bit of texture to them.
I was done for night except until I saw that they had Crispy Apple Dumplings on the menu. How could I not order that for dessert, especially as it comes with Coconut Ice Cream. The dumplings are potstickers and fried to golden crispiness and coated with Cinnamon sugar…. nom nom nom. To top them off is a caramel drizzle. Seriously I could eat two of these. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t live next door to Wild Rice.
Did you catch all the Chinese influences in my meal? There were plenty to be sure but it is a truly modern menu with something for everyone including vegetarians and those with a Gluten Free diet. Wild Rice you are the reason I visit New Westminster. Thanks to my friends at Bosa Properties and Riversky for treating me to a great afternoon and dinner at Wild Rice.