Late last week, I was invited to attend a chicken wing tasting tour by Richard Wolak (@vanfoodster). Similar to the poutine media tour and cheesecake event that took place earlier this year, this afternoon tasting was intended to showcase a few of the restaurants currently participating in the Vancouver Foodster Chicken Wing Challenge. For more information or to see a full list of participants, please click here.
To start off the tour, all media invitees met up at Malone’s Bar & Grill on West Pender. To pair with our plate of wings, we were served a glass of Grilled Lemonade with Rosemary and a shot of gin. The lemonade was not overly sweet which was nice as the buttermilk waffle battered chicken wings were tossed in a spicy salted caramel sauce. Overall, this offering was pleasantly surprising as it was reminiscent of a traditional plate of chicken and waffles but with a sweet twist. The wings themselves were salty yet sweet at the same time and were supported nicely by the crushed bits of waffle cone. We were all quite impressed by Chef Rennie’s creativity and appreciated his innovative attempt to present us with something out of the ordinary. For those looking for something other than your typical plate of bar wings, Malone’s is definitely worth a trip.
Salted Caramel Waffle Wings with Zing
Created by: Chef Rennie Chotalal
Kimchi Chicken Wings
Moving on to Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar situated right at Waterfront Station, we were each served a pound of chicken wings prepared with a kimchi wheat ale glaze. Talking to Chef Cory, we learned that the glaze was made with a kimchi purée that was then reduced with honey, orange and wheat ale. What was interesting was that the glass of R&B Sun God Wheat Ale that was paired with our wings was also used in the glaze. Accompanied by a cool sliced cucumber and herb salad, the sous vide approach to cooking the wings was apparent with every bite. I would say that of all three venues on the tour, Rogue presented with the juiciest wings. Although I would have liked to have received a bit more heat with this offering, the moistness and natural flavour of the chicken wings was definitely appreciated. For those wondering, the kimchi flavor is very mild and definitely tempered to suit local palates.
Created by Chef Cory Chapman
Rounding out our tour was a stop at Calabash Bistro on Carrall Street. Although I had previously been to both Malone’s and Rogue, Calabash was a bit of a dark horse for me as I had heard about it but never actually eaten there. I will save you the suspense and just come out and say the Calabash Wings were simply phenomenal. Made from free range chicken, this bistro marinates their wings in a house-made jerk and then seasons them with Calabash spices. To compliment the already flavourful wings, they are served with a spicy tropical glaze dipping sauce. It is a bit difficult to tell from the above photo but these wings are generously portioned and seasoned perfectly. The spicy tropical glaze is seriously addicting and adds a whole new dimension to the chicken meat.
We were lucky enough to get to try Calabash’s famous Dark & Stormy cocktail made with ginger beer, ginger syrup, angostura bitters, Gosling dark rum and crystallized ginger which is topped with shaved coconut and powdered cinnamon. The drink was an instant hit with our group with many of my colleagues lustily requesting seconds. Overall, the Calabash Wings paired with the Dark & Stormy cocktail was the highlight of the tour for me but I can sincerely say all three offerings were very good. Unique and quite tasty unto themselves, this tour definitely piqued my interest in what other wing creations are out there to be tried. Definitely check these three places out and let us know what you think!
Created by: Chef Cullin David