Note: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.
Thanks to VancityTastes, I was invited to a media tasting for the launch of Wild Rice‘s new summer patio menu. Wild Rice used to have a location in Vancouver, but now it is located at the River Market in New West. I don’t frequent New West, so I had never actually been to the River Market and was surprised to see that the area is right in front of the waterfront. With the warm weather now, they have opened up their patio, which is right in front of the water. What a beautiful space to enjoy your meal!
You can also choose to sit indoors, where there is both a dining area and a lounge if you’re looking for a quick bite and drinks. The interior is dimly lit with modern decor and the best part is their open kitchen concept. You can sit at the lounge and want the chefs do their thing. Wild Rice is known for the fact that they make their dishes as you order. That means nothing sits under a heat lamp and nothing is reheated. They also source their ingredients from local farms and partners with Ocean Wise for seafood. We also learned that the owner learned cooking from his grandma, so all dishes have an Asian flare and are meant to be shared. I’d say that the owner has put his own twist and modernized the traditional dishes, so is more Asian fusion.
To start, we had a Gin & Tonic. This was rosemary infused, featuring a Victoria premium cocktail gin and mixed with tonic water.
As for food, we started with a Vegan Kale Caesar Salad which featured a cashew tofu dressing, roasted garlic, crispy chickpeas, olives, red onion, and balsamic reduction. The kale tasted fresh and crispy, but the star was definitely the crispy chickpeas. I think they might have been fried, because they were super light and addicting! And I don’t even usually like to eat chickpeas since I find it to be too dense. Overall, the salad was light and refreshing, perfect for the warm weather.
The Gluten Free Polenta Fries were a beautiful golden yellow and was battered with cornmeal, topped with green onion, and served with a side of chili aioli. Personally, I am not a huge fan of polenta because of how dense it often is. For me, I found the fries to be dense and the cornmeal texture to be a little overwhelming. However, that chili aioli was addicting, and complemented the fries well so they weren’t as heavy feeling.
The Vegetable Potsticks were all perfectly wrapped and pinched and pan fried to a beautiful golden brown. The filling includes smoked tofu, napa cabbage, shiitake mushroom, and carrot. To dip, there was a ponzu dressing on the side which gave some acidity.
Gluten Free Salt & Pepper Squid
My favourite of the night was the Gluten Free Salt & Pepper Squid. The squid is lightly battered and fried, then topped with jalapenos, grilled lime, house tartar. The squid was not tough at all, but just the right chewy bouncy texture.
Switching up my drink, I tried the Berry Mojito which featured crushed bramble berries, mint, lime, and rum. For me, the drink was very fruity so I could barely taste the alcohol. You could easily drink many of these without noticing the alcohol! Dangerous!
Chicken Adobo Steamed Buns
A new menu item they just added are the Chicken Adobo Steamed Buns. These Chinatown baos come with a soy braised soft boiled egg, house pickles, and roasted garlic. The flavours were great, but I think many of us were confused as to why the buns were only filled with the chicken adobo near the bottom. The bun was soft and fluffy, but we just thought the construction of the bun was a bit odd.
Mini Poke Bowl
The last savoury dish was the Mini Poke Bowl. This features ocean-wise salmon on scallion verde rice, onions, roasted cherry tomatoes, spicy pineapple, cucumber and seaweed. Definitely not the authentic poke, but the flavours worked together with a nice kick from the spiced pineapples. I also liked how there was a soy marinade throughout the rice and not just at the top. I always find it difficult to mix all the ingredients together, so it’s nice that the soy is throughout the rice so you don’t end up with just plain rice at the bottom.
To finish, we had the Twisted Fashion which featured bourbon, ginger reduction, and orange bitters. A much stronger drink, this is not for everyone. I actually quite enjoyed this as it had a hint of ginger which brought bit of sweetness to it.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
For dessert, we had the Gluten Free Chocolate Cake which was served with raspberry sauce and mint ice cream from Tre Galli Gelato Cafe from next door. I think the cake is normally served with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, but not sure why it got switched up. The mint ice cream was great, but I think the vanilla ice cream would have been a better pairing. The cake was a delicious molten-like cake and many of the bloggers had more than one serving!