Vancouverites are lucky people. If we want, we can start each year twice. Don’t like the first six weeks of 2010? Forget them – start all over again with the beginning of the Chinese New Year (4708) on February 13th! This year marks the Year of the Tiger. In Asian cultures tigers are revered as regal, courageous, loyal, self-assured, independent and passionate. In the west, the tiger is a familiar pop culture icon used to sell everything from gasoline to breakfast cereal (the Esso tiger, Kelloggs Tony). Literature and the silver screen features many famous tigers (Shere Khan, the Bengal Tiger in Life of Pi) and of course there’s Hobbes in Calvin & Hobbes.
At Wild Rice, Andrew Wong and Chef Todd Bright grabbed the tiger by the tail to bring patrons a modern take on the concept of a traditional Chinese New Year’s banquet. For Chinese New Year (February 13 – 28), Wild Rice will be offering a special four-course Year of the Tiger Menu for a value-priced $40 along with an optional matched flight of wines for an additional $20 per person.
The dinner starts with a deconstructed version of a popular dim sum dumpling ‘Sui Mai. Wild Rice’s Tiger Stripe Sui Mai features ‘stripes’ of crab and northern BC shrimp. The crab is considered a ‘yang element’ and good luck because it turns red when cooked. The delicate pink of the shrimp coupled with its sweetness is an additional wish for a ‘sweet year of good fortune.’ Up next is Wild Rice’s Tiger Roll featuring stripes of cloud ear mushrooms (black), red curry and tofu (orange) seductively displayed through a translucent rice wrap. The mushrooms are a homonym for ‘wishes fulfilled,’ tofu is one of the ingredients symbolic of ‘wealth.’
Tiger Beer-marinated Bison Flat Iron Steak forms the core of the menu. The accompanying Spicy Scallop Dumpling carries several meanings its spiciness represents the fierceness of a tiger’s bite while the coin shape of the scallops conveys a wish for prosperity. The bicolour Ying Yang Gratin reminds us that balance is required for a happy life while the Chinese pickles add a slightly sour touch that heightens the flavours of the other components.
All Chinese banquets end on a sweet note to wish participants sweetness in the coming year. In this instance, Andrew Wong and Chef Bright chose to present a version of a sweet dumpling that is traditionally served in ginger soup at the end of a banquet. In this instance, the Lucky Nian Gao is a steamed sticky rice cake filled with a mixture of sweet red bean paste and almonds. The coin shape denotes ‘wealth’; the rice a symbol of ‘abundance.’ The filling also conveys good wishes. Red beans are particularly lucky in Chinese culture signifying both good luck (red colour) and ‘abundance.’ The almonds are a symbol of ‘fertility’ wishing that you be surrounded by many children and a large family. The cake is drizzled with anise syrup to reinforce its sweet wish and is accompanied by lucky lycee of white chocolate coins which completes the wish for a sweet year filled with good luck, prosperity and good health.
“At traditional New Year’s banquets, you are likely to see hard spirits served,” says Wild Rice owner Andrew Wong. “However, with Chinese New Year coinciding with the Olympics bringing a large influx of out-of-town visitors this year, I felt it was very important to highlight some of BC’s amazing wines by suggesting an optional wine pairing. Each has been carefully selected to complement the flavour profile of the course.” For those preferring a more traditional approach Wild Rice does offer several appropriately named cocktails including Double Happiness, Pink Pearl and Gin Sing along with a variety of cognacs and Scotches.
Now you can ‘put a tiger in your tank’ and enjoy a roaring good time from February 13 to 28 at Wild Rice. Tigger would approve.
117 W. Pender St., Vancouver, BC V6B 1S4 604.642.2882 www.wildricevancouver.com