On Saturday, August 11th, Eating in Vancouver & the World was invited out to Chinatown by Chevrolet Canada and Wild Rice to a ‘Year of the Dragon Tasting Event’. Piggy backing off the two day TD Vancouver Chinatown Festival, the event was created to showcase the innovative approach that Chevrolet takes towards its cars as well as the food creativity that drives Wild Rice.
To help kick start the event, our two hosts from Chevrolet were joined by Executive Chef Todd Bright from Wild Rice for a quick tour of the festival’s various food stalls. We were generously offered a few dishes to sample including cha siew bao (pork buns), sui mai (open face dumplings), potstickers, spring rolls with plum sauce and a few other popular festival favorites. Although many of the dishes were pretty decent, a few were hastily prepared and it was clear many were mass produced with little care. Trying the festival food proved important as it allowed for an immediate comparison to what we would later try at Wild Rice.
With our tummies happy and full, we took a quick tour around Chinatown before heading to the restaurant. Chef Todd enthusiastically conveyed his love for Chinatown and even showed us a few grocery stores he personally frequents for fresh produce.
Although EatinginVanouver is a food site, I would like to thank Chevrolet Canada for all their efforts. In addition to co-hosting and planning the event, Chevrolet Canada kindly offered each member of our group to take home one of their new vehicles for the week! Before heading to Wild Rice, they also picked us up in two brand new, chauffeured vehicles and took us for a great tour around the city. The ride was very smooth and it was great arriving at Wild Rice in style so thanks to Chevrolet Canada!
After being dropped off at Wild Rice, we were told that Chef Todd would be giving us a live demonstration on how to make two different Chinese dumplings! We really enjoyed being able to watch and learn how the dumplings were made from scratch and Chef even let us try to make some of our own!
Chef Todd had to head back to the kitchen to begin preparing our meal so it gave us some time to explore the restaurant. It was really nice having the entire place to ourselves as the modern, minimalist interior really is quite attractive.
The first dish we were served was Wild Rice’s take on the classic Sui Mai or ‘open faced dumpling.’ Filled with fresh pork and sidestripe shrimp and served with red vinegar, the dumplings really were very good. The dumpling wrapper was prepared well so that it was still tender but not gummy. The nicely ground filling still managed to retain distinct flavors that were accentuated nicely by the tart red vinegar.
The second dish we tried was the Lamb Potstickers filled with braised Fraser Valley lamb and served with a pea and mint purée. Both the Sui Mai and Lamb Potstickers go for $7 and come with four pieces per dish. The lamb potstickers were so crispy and delicious, I sincerely wanted to eat more. I found the pea and mint purée was a novel addition to this staple dish that surprisingly worked well.
The third dish we tried was the main dish of the meal and Wild Rice’s truly innovative take on the traditional Sweet ‘N Sour Pork dish. This plate was served with pickled watermelon cubes which proved to be very refreshing! We were all pretty taken back by the visual impact of the plate as it definitely was not what we were expecting. Someone even commented that this serving looked like it would go great as part of a pulled pork sandwich. Overall, a very delicious dish in a very creative format. Served in a larger portion, this dish can be ordered at Wild Rice for $12.
The fourth and final dish we had was dessert! Chef Todd was very careful to inform us that he created this special tasting plate specifically for this event and that unfortunately it is not on the Wild Rice menu. Beautifully plated in three parts, the plate was comprised of two Chocolate Szechuan cookies, scratch Rice Krispie squares with in-house made marshmallows and a delightful little cupcake with a berry compote. Individually, all three desserts were amazing and a sweet end to a great meal.
As we wrapped up the meal and gave our thanks to our hosts, I took one final look around the restaurant and personally thanked Chef Todd for his time/effort. Although I had never been to Wild Rice until this event, I was very pleased by the quality of food and the sustainable food practices that Wild Rice employ. By exclusively using local ingredients like pork and Oceanwise shrimp, Wild Rice is clearly committed to great food but also making great food in a natural, healthy manner. I will definitely be heading back to Wild Rice for a more formal dinner review one of these days but until then, I will take this wonderful experience to heart.