Wild Rice Closes Groundbreaking Original

Wild Rice: Andrew Wong and Stu Irving

Andrew Wong & chef Stu Irving (who went on to open Cobre). Hmmm, sure took some awkward pics in those days!

Wild Rice, Andrew Wong’s trend-setting downtown room at Vancouver’s Pender and Carrall streets, has closed. Wong has decided to focus his energies entirely on Wild Rice Bistro at River Market, in New Westminster. I’m sure he’ll do well at the centre of such a rapidly growing region. If you haven’t yet made the trip to River Market, it’s well worth checking out. I think it’s important to put into context just what Wong achieved (and risked) when he and then business partner Tom Poirier took that leap in 2001. At the time there really was no such thing in Vancouver as crossover Chinese cuisine. Nor were a whole lot of people heading down to Pender and Carrall.

A look back at Wild Rice v.1…

Here’s what I wrote at the time: “Looking much like a proud new father, Andrew Wong is showing off the deep indigo glazed small squared plates and bowls that ferry affordable small plates to an already bustling crowd at Wild Rice, Vancouver’s newest—and unique—Chinese restaurant. Last week, a few weeks behind schedule, Wong (who used to be front and centre with the edgy Brickhouse on Main Street) and partner Tom Poirier finally opened the doors of their very stylish, contemporary space, kitty-corner to Tinseltown at Pender and Carrall.

When it comes to culinary choice, Vancouver is hardly lacking. Nevertheless, the city’s established Chinese restaurant community has been curiously slow to embrace the possibilities, beyond its built-in clientele, to take Chinese cuisine to the mainstream and tempt more cautious western tastes. Asian ingredients may enjoy prominence front and centre in many once purely classical kitchens—but a true melding of Chinese and western dining styles has been a while coming. 

Is Wild Rice that bold cross-over offering for which many of us have been waiting? Hold on to your chopsticks!  With its blend of  tapas styled, progressive Chinese dishes delivered in a truly contemporary setting, this dynamic, be-all space adds up to a genuine hybrid.” (Vancouver Courier)

I couldn’t make it to Wild Rice Pender Street’s closing night. I’m sure it was a bitter sweet Lunar New Year celebration. But I’ll be back soon to River Market to see Wong and savour some Pemberton beef and Shanghai noodles or addictive Chicken King Pu. It really is a quick and easy trip on SkyTrain from downtown. Wild Rice is just one of an interesting and growing group of eateries at River Market, that includes  Angus An’s (Maenam) Longtail Kitchen, La Grotto del Formaggio, Re-Up BBQ, and more. CBC’s Margaret Gallagher did an excellent interview with Andrew Wong  pre-closing. I’ll put the link up here as soon as it becomes available.

 

By | 2018-01-21T15:05:19+00:00 February 2nd, 2014|Belly's Best Bites|0 Comments

About the Author:

Tim has been covering the food and wine revolution for about 20 kilos. Count 15 kg alone thanks to the blossoming cuisine and wine culture of British Columbia, Canada. Tim’s hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises—and often over deliver. Readers depend on the Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. He writes, tweets and shoots his own images for columns in the Vancouver Courier and North Shore News. He also contributes to WHERE Vancouver magazine, as well as to several other publications. They include Taste magazine, Tidings Magazine, and Montecristo. His columns are frequently picked up by major newspapers across Canada. Tim is a frequent judge for wine competitions, such as Vancouver Magazine International Wine Awards. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. He is frequently invited to judge at The BC Wine Awards, and others. Tim has traveled to taste in many of the world’s leading wine regions, most recently in Burgundy, Argentina and Chile.

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