Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wild Rice


To say that Wild Rice serves modern Chinese cuisine would not be entirely accurate. Western influence is apparent in all aspects of the restaurant from the decor to the dishes. The main seating area is designed to be a resto-lounge with 2 flights of stairs at either end leading to 2 separate smaller seating areas upstairs.


The food menu is not very extensive and the cheapest item is $7. I had a hard time deciding what to get because I couldn't justify the price for most of the items on the menu. Hot and sour soup for $7? I could get a large pot of hot and sour soup at most Shanghainese restaurants for that price. Dim sum for $7? I'm used to dim sum under $3 at authentic Chinese dim sum restaurants. I moved further down the menu to the small plate section. Hmm... seared albacore tuna; is that even a Chinese dish? Then the large plate section: buddha's curry on jasmine rice for $13. Now that's not too bad! But wait... +$6 for chicken and +$4 for tofu. What?! So $13 only includes rice and curry sauce?


After much deliberation, I finally decided on a few small plates based on the server's recommendations. The first was the sweet and sour pulled pork ($11), and surprisingly I really enjoyed this dish despite its shortcomings. The pulled pork was tender and very sweet, maybe a bit too sweet, and I couldn't taste the sourness at all. But the juicy watermelon was a refreshing touch that balanced out the heaviness of the meat. I also enjoyed the shredded pork with a slight hint of cinnamon.


I ordered the lettuce cups ($14) so that I could compare with the san choy bau from The Flying Tiger. The lettuce was of a different variety, but there were similar brown blotches on the leaves. However, I enjoyed the chicken and squab filling a lot more than the ground beef filling at The Flying Tiger. The chicken and squab bits were really tender, but the seasoning was a bit too salty.


The most disappointing dish was the truffle salt tofu cauliflower puree ($10). Although the peas were sweet and did not taste grassy at all, the tofu was hopelessly bland. The truffle salt did nothing but add a bit of saltiness to the large blocks of tofu. The cauliflower puree with mushroom vinaigrette on the bottom of the dish was tasty and reminded me of potato puree, except there was a slight coconut flavour. It wasn't enough to compensate for the tasteless tofu though.


I visited on a Friday night and the place was packed full. Much to my unsurprise, most of the patrons were non-Asian. I really think this place would thrive in a city that does not know authentic Chinese cuisine. With its pleasing food presentation and the incorporation of Western ingredients and cooking methods, Wild Rice definitely has the potential to be a crowd pleaser, given the crowd is not Asian. Needless to say, I (as an Asian) am very much biased against this restaurant, so please take this review with a grain of salt.

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