Check out My Birthday Part 1: Vancouver Veg Fest 2013.
After our day at Veg Fest and downtown Vancouver, Jem and I headed to the New Westminster Quay for a family dinner at my current favourite restaurant, Wild Rice. Wild Rice has two locations in the lower mainland, in New West and downtown Vancouver, serving what they call modern Chinese cuisine with “ingredients that are local, seasonal, and sustainable” (from the website). While the restaurants are not completely vegan, about half of the lunch and dinner menus are vegan, or can easily be made vegan, and these items are clearly marked with a ‘V’ on both the online and in-restaurant menus. There is also always at least one vegan dessert at each location.
Both locations are really nice, but have quite different feels. The downtown location is a long skinny room with dark furnishings. It feels more fancy than the New West location. The New West location feels much more open and roomy, lots of natural elements, and best of all, one whole wall is made of glass doors looking out across the Fraser River (which are sometimes completely open to the outdoor patio seating). Also, this location is right on the boardwalk of the New West Quay, so its perfect for taking a post-dinner stroll along the water. The downtown location is open for dinner and the New West location is open for both lunch and dinner. The menus at both locations share some items, but are mostly unique.
I’ve been to Wild Rice twice before, once to each location, and I knew it would be the perfect place to have a birthday dinner with my omnivore family. As much as I love supporting all-vegan businesses, a place with non-vegan food and clearly marked vegan options is much better suited to dining with a bunch of omnivores (including a few that are very unadventurous eaters). Most of the dishes are made for sharing so the portion sizes are quite large. If you aren’t sharing a dish you will most likely end up with leftovers. For example, this time around I had the Spicy Green Beans and Mushroom Risotto with Chili Tofu and I got three small meals out of it. Although if I hadn’t eaten so much food all day at VegFest, that probably would have been down to two good size meals.
Now lets talk food! I only took photos of the vegan food that we ordered, but I’m told that the other dishes were all thoroughly enjoyed as well.
Seasonal Vegetable Spring Rolls. They were arranged much nicer than this but my 3-year-old nephew had already rearranged them. I love these spring rolls! I’ve tried them once at each location and they were fantastic both times. Very fresh tasting and not at all greasy like some spring rolls can be.
Spicy Green Beans. I’ve also tried these twice and love them! They are crunchy and fresh, with a delicious spicy, sweet, sesame sauce. Totally addictive!
Mixed Mushroom and Truffle Risotto with added Chili Tofu. I actually think this was the first time I’ve ever had risotto at a restaurant and it was great! Not my favourite entree that I’ve had, but I did really enjoy it and am glad I tried it. Definitely vegan comfort food.
Thai Green Curry with added Chili Tofu. You can’t tell but there is rice and a lot of vegetables hidden under there. Jem and Dan ordered this and really enjoyed it. I’m a little sad that I didn’t get a taste. I’ll probably be trying this dish next time.
As I said, this was the third time I’ve been to Wild Rice and all the food I’ve tried has been awesome. The Chinese influence is very evident, but the heavy greasy food that can be prominent in Chinese restaurants is nowhere to be found. Instead the freshness and flavours of the ingredients really stand out. Last time I was at the New West location I had the Spicy Tofu Kung Po (it’s on the menu as Spicy Chicken Kung Po but as it says, you can easily substitute the chicken with tofu) and it was amazing! Rice noodles, vegetables, and tofu in a creamy peanut sauce with just the right amount of heat.
Jem and I have eaten once at the downtown location and, along with the spring rolls mentioned earlier, shared the Mapo Doufu, Chinatown Sweep, and the Chocolate and Taro Spring Rolls. The Mapo Doufo (smoked tofu, eggplant, and other vegetables served with rice and chili jam) was fantastic and we’ve tried multiple times to replicate the flavours of the dish at home. The Chinatown Sweep is a basic mixed vegetable chow main, that was also very delicious. The Chocolate and Taro Spring Rolls were insanely good! Crunchy outsidehe Chinatown Sweep was a basic mixed vegetable chow main, that was also very delicious.