Going against the grain

Image via http://30dayadventures.ca/
Image via http://30dayadventures.ca/

A review of Wild Rice

By Jamal Al-Bayaa, Staff Writer

If you’ve ever taken a second to stop by Wild Rice, located in the River Market in New West, you may have seen a group of young chefs clearly invested in their craft chopping vegetables, prepping dumplings, or gutting and butchering chickens.

Chef Andrew Wong, founder and owner of Wild Rice, says the reactions are mixed on that last part. “It’s not for everybody,” he said, “but generally, people are fascinated by it.

“It’s important that people know where their food comes from,” he continued. “Up until recently, you couldn’t go out and get whatever part of the chicken you wanted. You got the whole animal, you would use it all because that’s what was economical, and you knew how to gut it.”

The less used parts of the animal, thigh meat for example, get tossed into the wontons and spring rolls. It would be a shame not using that meat to its fullest potential, because the only things it lacks is that purely aesthetic visual appeal. The chicken breast, on the other hand, gets used in the famous Kung Pow Chicken—which has some serious potential to be a new student favorite, considering complaints on Yelp include, “it was too big! I had to take three quarters of it home.”

That “use it all” mentality has been a part of Wong’s food philosophy ever since he first learned how to cook a dumpling and plant a potato. “We’re striving for a no-waste environment here. We use it, use it, use it, until there’s nothing left, and then we compost it. There’s no Styrofoam anywhere in the process.”

Wong deals with small, local family farms, which is part of the goal of Wild Rice: getting everyone to recognize that their food comes from somewhere. It has a story and it has a history. You should ask, “Where did it come from? How was it grown? How far did it travel to get to your plate?”

The dishes that come off the menu are creative, East-meets-West style dishes, and to top it all off, the number of vegan and gluten-free options is impressive. The one thing that might hit a little hard is the cost. Students tend to act (and look!) a little more like Scrooge with every midterm they find themselves taking. Walk in on any old day, and you’ll most likely pay $20 for a meal—luckily, costs go down with some planning. Mondays and Tuesdays feature 25 per cent discounts on the Kung Pow Chicken and Shanghai Beef Noodles respectively, and your Douglas Student ID or Douglas Staff Card get you 10 per cent off every day of the week!