Tag Archives: Vancouver Chinese New Year

Wild Rice Celebrates Year of the Sheep

February 18 heralds the Year of the Sheep (also called Ram or Goat as the Chinese word is the same for all) or the year 4713 on the Chinese calendar. From February 19 through 22, Wild Rice will mark the occasion with feature dishes that have been created especially for you by Chef Todd. According to Chinese tradition, the name of a dish, or its ingredients, convey wishes for health, riches, children or prosperity. At New Year’s, such symbolic meanings are doubly important. On Wild Rice’s Menu, you’ll find these dishes wishing you good fortune:

lamb turnip cakes

Lamb Turnip Cake (Luo Bo Gao): Pan-seared turnip cake filled with shitake mushrooms, ground lamb, and accompanied by a citrusy house-made ponzu sauce. Turnip cakes symbolize good omens and the Shitake mushrooms mean ‘seizing opportunity.’ The dish includes eight cakes for only $10. The numeral eight is a very lucky number in Chinese symbolism because it sounds like the word for ‘prosperity.’

Roasted-Goat Curry Steam Bun (Shanyang Bao): Roasted goat, onions and pumpkin in a lighted curry sauce stuffed into a steam bun. The Bao is served with garlic chive aioli on the side and is priced at $12. The pumpkin represents ‘prosperity and abundance,’ onion symbolizes ‘cleverness,’ while the garlic chives symbolize ‘eternity and long life.’ The curry is orange/golden and that denotes ‘wealth.’

wildrice lamb potstickers

Lamb Potstickers (Yangrou Jiaozi): a favourite on Wild Rice’s menu, these flavourful, Fraser Valley lamb-filled dumplings are served with pea and mint puree.  Dumplings represent ‘wealth’ as they resemble traditional Chinese gold ingots. The word ‘jiaozi’ also shares the same pronunciation for an ancient Chinese coin. Peas, being ‘seeds’ convey the wish for ‘fertility’ and ‘many children.’ The green colour of the sauce symbolizes ‘new growth.’ A dish of these is priced at $12.

sesame ballse

Sesame Seed Balls with Mandarin Sorbet (Jian Doi): every Chinese meal ends on a sweet note. Red bean paste-stuffed Jian Doi are a traditional New Year’s treat as they convey so many auspicious meanings  – the golden colour symbolizes ‘wealth,’ the multiple sesame seeds mean both ‘wealth’ and ‘many children,’ the red bean paste is ‘good luck’ and ‘fertility.’ Mandarins represent ‘wealth’ because of their colour. A plate of Jian Doi with sorbet is value-priced at $5 – the numeral five meaning ‘completeness.’

As Chinese flavours are complex, co-owner Andrew Wong is always happy to help you select an appropriate wine to accompany your meal. Wild Rice also offers an extensive tea menu along with several appropriately named cocktails including the Wild Dragon, Lotus and Orchid. Especially for New Year’s Andrew has designed Lai See, a cocktail incorporating sparkling wine, ginger syrup and house-made fresh berry reduction ($8). Lai See are the traditional red envelopes given at New Year’s as well as wedding, birthday or special gifts throughout the year. Usually they contain money, chocolate coins or a gift certificate. They always contain wishes for prosperity and good luck.

From noon to 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 22nd, Wild Rice patrons will be treated to a special performance by the Mulan Dancers who perform classical Chinese dance in traditional period costumes. The performance is free and is included as part of Wild Rice’s Year of the Sheep celebrations.

According to an ancient Chinese proverb “good fortune of the mouth is no mean thing.” Give your year a lucky start by enjoying the Year of the Sheep specials at Wild Rice Market Bistro. We look forward to welcoming you.

CELEBRATE CHINESE NEW YEAR WITH BAMBUDDA’S DUMPLING FESTIVAL

Bambuddha Chinese New Year

Wednesday, Feb 18 to Sunday, Feb 22 

There are hundreds of regional cuisines in China, but the mighty dumpling transcends them all, appearing in the festivities of virtually every province and town.

In celebration of Chinese New Year and the Year of the Sheep (Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015), Bambudda chef Curtis Luk has created a specially themed dumpling menu honouring the four traditional preparations — pan-seared, fried, steamed and boiled — each one interpreted with the freshest of West Coast ingredients. Rounding out the experience, Luk has also created a decidedly non-traditional dessert dumpling.

Happiness: pan-seared oyster and chicken lettuce dumplings in ginger soy
Longevity: steamed Szechuan scallop and black cod dumplings
Prosperity: boiled pork and truffle dumplings (served on egg noodles)
Peace: fried lamb cumin curry dumplings
and
Love: chocolate kumquat mochi dessert dumplings

Particularly popular during Chinese New Year, the dumpling wrapper and its stuffing are thought to symbolize togetherness with many families coming together to wrap dumplings the morning of New Year’s. Dumplings can also be a symbol of prosperity, their boat-like shape modeled after the sycee, a form of silver or gold currency used in China until the 20th Century.

The special Dumpling Festival menu will be available from February 18-22, to coincide with the start of the Year of the Sheep on Thursday, February 19, 2015.

About Bambudda Located at the crossroads of Gastown and Chinatown, Bambudda offers a modern take on traditional Cantonese cuisine, a varied vegetarian menu and a solid, intriguing cocktail selection. Open 5:30 pm to midnight, Tuesday-Sunday.

99 Powell St., Vancouver, B.C. | 604-428-0301
www.bambudda.ca | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Bambudda Celebrates New Year

Duck BunsWe stopped in to sample some of these treats. Don’t miss the eggplant and duck bao. GLV

The Year of the Horse gallops in at Bambudda Gastown’s Nouveau Chinese Restaurant unveils its Chinese New Year menu  (Available Jan. 31 to Feb. 9, 2014)

Bambudda owner Ray Loy and Executive Chef Scott Korzack are welcoming Chinese New Year with a special, à la carte menu embodying the restaurant’s commitment to Cantonese cuisine prepared with a Western flair. The carefully curated food and cocktail list features specialities that harken back to Loy’s Cantonese heritage.

Duck, a traditional New Year’s offering, features prominently on the menu in both the steamed Duck Buns and the Tea Duck, served with a black-tea jus, red dates and holiday-appropriate chrysanthemum greens. In a playful nod to Chinatowns across the country, the fried Duck Gizzard is accompanied by packets of Wing’s Plum Sauce. Although Bambudda makes its own plum sauce in-house, Loy and Korzack wanted to pay tribute to the newer traditions embraced by Canada’s Chinese communities.

The Lettuce Wraps, stuffed with baked and fried Chinese eggplant, point to the Chinese word for “fortune,” which is also the word for “lettuce.”

And finally, the Lucky Coy, a frozen ginger parfait dessert in the shape of a fish, is a sweet way to highlight the custom of ending a Chinese New Year banquet with a whole fish — the head and tail symbolizing a good beginning and end to the year.

For his part, bar manager Robert “Buck” Friend has been tasked with creating three cocktails to complement the special menu: the rum-based Last Dynasty, the fiery Dragon’s Descendant and the Red Packet, made with cassia bark-infused tequila.

Duck Buns Chinese BBQ sauce, cilantro 10

Lettuce Wraps Eggplant, popped grains, black tea 9

Tea Duck Black tea jus, red dates, chrysanthemum greens 21

Duck Gizzards Plum sauce 5

Lucky Coy Banana and white chocolate mouse, tea cake, coconut and ginger 8

COCKTAILS
Last Dynasty Out with the old and in with the new Havana three-year-old rum, Lillet Rouge, sherry vinegar date puree, house-spiced grenadine, Angostura and egg white11

Dragonʼs Descendant A fiery start to the New Year Birds eye chili-infused Aperol, black pepper infused Triple Sec, gin and lemon11

Red Packet Inspired by the traditional red envelopes of the holiday Burned cassia bark ember infused tequila, Dubonnet, crème de cacao, orange bitters11

Gung HAGGIS Fat Choy tickets now available

gung haggis2013 Gung HAGGIS Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year – Celebrating BC Scottish and Chinese pioneer culture, history – in music, poetry and culinary fusion

New theme for 2013:

celebrating Sir James Douglas, the father of BC and first governor in 1858.
~new incentive to buy tickets early:
We are going to put a bottle of wine on the tables that are ordered by January 1st
http://ricepapermagazine.ca/gung-haggis
Sunday January 27, 2013

Time: 5:00 pm
Reception: 6:00 pm
Dinner: 7:00 pm – 9:15 pm
Floata Seafood Restaurant (#400 – 180 Keefer St, Chinatown Vancouver)

Ticket:  $65/each.
Table of 10: $625
Each ticket includes $5 service charge.
You can purchase ticket online or over the phone with a credit card, please call Kristin Cheung at Ricepaper magazine at 604-872-3464.
 
History of Gung Haggis:

In 1998, “Toddish McWong” held a small private dinner for 16 friends with food, haggis, poetry and songs – from both Scottish and Chinese cultures and thus was born – Gung Haggis Fat Choy –  Now it is a dinner for 400 people!  More than  a traditional dinner with music and poetry.  Gung Haggis Fat Choy re-imagines a traditional Robert Burns Dinner format, within a BC or Canadian historical context that puts Scottish-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian pioneers on an inclusive and equal platform, while acknowledging historical racism and how we move beyond it.  This event has grown to also celebrate contemporary Scottish-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian artists and poets and their innovations to create something uniquely Canadian, and a heckuva lot of FUN!

16 Years of Highlights for Gung Haggis Fat Choy (GHFC) & Toddish McWong:
1998 – 1st Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner for 16 people in a living room.
1999 – 1st dinner in a restaurant for 40 people
2001 – 1st media interviews for Ubyssey newspaper and 100 attendees as we fill the Grandview Szechwan Restaurant
2002 – 200 attendees in a snow storm as we outgrow the Spicy Court Restaurant + Media interviews for Vancouver Sun and CBC Radio and City TV
2003 – 1st Creation of deep-fried haggis wonton, and we move to Flamingo Restaurant on Fraser.
2004 – CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy”– nominated for 2 Leo Awards
2005 – SFU GHFC Festival with dragon cart racing + human curling
2005 – 500 attendees and we move to Floata Restaurant in Vancouver Chinatown.
2006 – GHFC photo included in Paul Yee book Saltwater City
2007 – “Address to the Haggis” rap version performed by Todd Wong & Joe McDonald
2007 – GHFC featured in CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy
2008 –  Toddish McWong photo in BC Canada Pavillion during  Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.
2008 – Photo of Toddish McWong in the Royal BC Museum exhibit “The Party”
2009 – GHFC written about in Charles Demers’ book Vancouver Special
2009 – Toddish McWong featured speaker at Centre for Scottish Studies SFU conference “Burns in Trans-Atlantic context”
2009 – Toddish McWong photo featured at Scottish Parliament in the exhibit “This is Who We Are: Scots in Canada.”
2010 – UBC Assistant Professor Larissa Lai, who teaches Burns poetry, is the featured poet and reads from her BC Book Prize-nominated collection Automaton Diaries
2010 – feature souvenir items from Burns Cottage such as a tam and bow-tie given to Bill Saunders, president of VDLC, who gives the Immortal Memory
2011 – “Gung HAPA Fat Choy” dinner features mixed-race artists and performers and inspires the creation of the  Hapa-Palooza Festival for Vancouver 125 Celebrations
Previous artist and writers included:
Writers: Joy Kogawa, Fred Wah, Brad Cran, Larissa Lai, Rita Wong, George McWhirter, Jim Wong-Chu, Lensey Namioka, Fiona Tinwei Lam.
Musicians: Silk Road Music, Heather Pawsey soprano, Lan Tung, and Blackthorn
Film makers:  Jeff Chiba Stearns, Ann-Marie Fleming and Moyra Rodger.

Menu Highlights include:
Deep-fried haggis wonton + haggis pork dumpling (su-mei) and appetizer courses.
“Neeps” served Chinese style in the form of pan-fried turnip cake, dim sum style.
Traditional haggis is served with Chinese lettuce wrap.

And we always feature fun sing-alongs such as Loch Lomand, My Chow Mein (Bonny) Lies Over the Ocean, and When Asian Eyes Are Smiling.
Lots of surprises… such as new for 2012 – a revamped version of Robbie Burns lyrics set to Johnny Cash or Elvis Presley music.

For Media Inquires Contact:
Todd Wong

Urban Tea Merchant Year of The Dragon Afternoon Tea Service

To honour the Year of the Dragon The Urban Tea Merchant is offering a unique afternoon tea service in their downtown location at 1070 West Georgia Street, Vancouver.   From January 16 – January 31 Chef Michael Batoux has crafted tea infused items, along with some versions of the traditionally served items and there is even a TWG tea-infused fortune cookie with a prediction for you for 2012.  My cookie contained the message “Adopt the pace of Nature: her secret is patience” – a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Seemed fitting as I always need to be reminded to slow down (whether I will or not is another story altogether).

In November of last year, The Urban Tea Merchant initiated a partnership with TWG Tea and now this luxury brand is offered exclusively at their tea shops. Along with traditional teas, TWG Tea infuses their tea with fruits, flowers and spices from around the world.  TWG Tea also offers tea pots candles and tea gift sets for everyday treats and gifts, so do include some time to peruse the storefront.

The tea on the tasting table was the Timeless Tea a black tea blended with hibiscus and other flowers, fruity and light.  The service itself comes with  chilled TWG Tea Jasmine Pearls tea and the Jade Dragon Tea, a rare fine harvest tea from leaves hand plucked just at the right time of the year.  This full bodied green tea has smoky earthy notes, a bit of sweetness and natural astringency.  It retails for $116 per 100 grams.  This afternoon tea is a good opportunity to try this luxury tea without the extra cost, and normally a charge for pricier teas is added.

For a more reasonable cost, The Urban Tea Merchant carries the  Haute Couture Jade Dragon tea from TWG Tea.  This attractive package is offered for $36.99 per 100 grams and is a combination of the Jade Dragon Tea and some other green and fruit teas.  Pictured above at the top is the Jade Dragon rare tea, and below the Haute Couture Jade Dragon so you can compare the leaves.  Below is the Haute Couture Jade Dragon tea package.  It does not come with the gold dragon, so you’ll have to get that somewhere else!

The tea service begins with a mango sorbet, full of ripe fruit flavours, refreshing your palate for the kaleidoscope of flavours to come.

On the savoury tray you will find  Peking duck & plum sauce wrapped in a crepe, cucumber, watercress & cracked black pepper sandwich, an open faced smoked salmon with wasabi mayo & soy jelly, Tiger Hill Tea-infused egg salad sandwich, petit tea-infused chicken salad cone & petit savory tart, baby shrimp & chopped apple served in Chinese spoon, Boursin cheese mousse with crisp endive & candied walnut and wagyu beef carpaccio with horseradish foam.  All items had obviously been made fresh as there was no trace of them drying out, which can occur when tea items sit too long.  The items are a refreshing change from just mini-sandwiches, which are the norm at most tea houses.  Including tea infused egg and chicken salad took the food and tea pairings up a notch, and the addition of Asian flavours tied the tea concept in with the Chinese New Year.

For sweets the tray included a tea-infused macaron, chocolate dipped dragon fruit, chocolate truffle, petit fours, fresh exotic fruit, and the Matcha tea-infused fortune cookie, as well as a fresh baked scone served with devon creme & jam.

Despite the fact I had not had lunch and had consumed a rather small breakfast, I had to pack the entire sweet tray to go, less a couple pieces of fruit I nibbled on.

The Urban Tea Merchants staff come from a variety of cultures, and speak numerous languages in case you have out of towners, or want to brush up on your French or perhaps Japanese.  Their onsite tea sommelier, Reza Nasooti, is frequently on site in case you have any intricate questions about the tea program or teas, and even if you don’t I would suggest introducing yourself as he always has some interesting tidbit of information to offer.

While the Year of the Dragon tea is only on until January, check back for the Valentine’s Tea Service and their unique Cherry Blossom tea.

http://www.urbantea.com/


 

 

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2011 Dinner

January 30, 2011

Contact Firehall Arts Centre: phone 604.689.0926

2011 prices
SINGLE TICKET
$60 + $5 service charge = $65
Student price is $50 + $4.50 = $54.50 (must show student high school or university ID)
Children’s price is $40 + $4.00 = $44 (ages 13 and under).

Reservations for tables of 10
$600 + lower service charge – only $20

WHAT:GUNG HAGGIS FAT CHOY: Toddish McWong’s Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner – 14th Annversary Dinner, celebrating 252nd Anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth + incoming Chinese New Year of the Rabbit.

WHEN: January 30 2011, SUNDAY
doors open 5pm, Dinner 6pm

WHERE: Floata Chinese Restaurant,
#400-180 Keefer St.

Media Inquiries
Call Gung Haggis Productions / Todd Wong
direct: 778-846-7090
email: gunghaggis at yahoo dot ca

CULTURE: Our Performers create something special for us every year with traditional and contemporary performances featuring everything in-between and beyond!

FOOD: A quirky fusion/mix/buffet of Scottish Canadian and Chinese Canadian culture 10 course Chinese banguet dinner
2004 – The debut of Gung Haggis Won-Ton
2005 – Haggis lettuce wrap!
2007 – Haggis dim sum appetizer buffet
2008 – Debut of Gung Haggis parade dragon!
2009 – debut of Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipes & Drums band + auction of 37 year old special edition Famous Grouse whisky + scotch tastings of Famous Grouse, The Macallan and Highland Park.
2010 featured Chinese-Scottish-Canadian Highland Dancers!
Watch for more surprises in 2011!

 ORIGINS:Gung Haggis Fat Choy began in 1993 when Toddish McWong first wore a kilt at Simon Fraser University. The first dinner was in 1998 – click for more…

Special for 2011
Every year, we invite new people to perform and co-host. For 2011, there seems to be a Hapa theme emerging… people who have both Asian and Caucasian ancestry.

Patrick Gallagher, Co-hosting will be Glee’s Coach Tanaka – who has performed in movies and television shows, such as Da Vinci’s Inquest, the bartender in Sideways with Sandra Oh, Master & Commander, Atilla the Hun in Night At the Museum + many more!  Patrick also performed theatrically in the touring production of “Naomi’s Road” (based on the Joy Kogawa children’s book – that preceded the unrelated Vancouver Opera touring production).  I have known Patrick for many years, and his sister Margaret Gallagher has previously co-hosted in 2004, as well as performed.  We will sing a special version of” Chirish Eyes Are Smiling” to celebrate Patrick’s Chinese and Irish heritage

Jocelyn Pettit is a fiddler that people rave about.  Some are calling her the next Natalie McMaster… and she is only 15 year’s old.  Jocelyn’s mother is of Chinese ancestry and her father is of Scottish-French Canadian ancestry.  2010 was a special year for Jocelyn because she was able to carry the Olympic Torch in her hometown of Squamish.  I met her and her family at the BC Highland Games this summer in Coquitlam.  Check out Jocelyn on CBC Radio website: http://radio3.cbc.ca/#/bands/Jocelyn-Pettit-Band

Jeff Chiba Stearns is a repeat Gung Haggis performer.  In 2005, his short film “What Are You Anyways?” thrilled our Gung Haggis dinner guests.  This year, his new film takes it to another level, as Jeff explores why all his family members of the Japanese side married non-Japanese partners in the full length documentary, One Big Hapa Family.  His take is that there are no halfs – everybody in the family is now 100% Japanese Canadian.

Other performers include Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums, bagpiper/musician Joe Macdonald, Vancouver poet laureate Brad Cran + lots of surprises!.  More on them in later posts…

Arrive Early: 

The doors will open at 5:00 pm, All tables are reserved, and all seating is placed in the order that they were ordered.

If you bought your tickets through Firehall Arts Centre, come to the reception marked Will Call under the corresponding alphabet letters.  We have placed you at tables in order of your purchase.  Somebody who bought their ticket in December will be at a table closer to the stage then somebody who bought it in mid January, or on the day before the event.  We think this is fair.  If you want to sit close for next year – please buy your ticket early.

If you are at a table with one of the sponsoring organizations: Historic Joy Kogawa House, ACWW/Ricepaper Magazine, Gung Haggis dragon boat team – then somebody will meet you at the reception area and guide you to your table.

The Bar is open at 5:00 and Dinner Start time is 6:00

We expect a rush before the posted 6:00pm dinner time. We have asked that the 1st appetizer platter be placed on the table soon after 6pm.  Once this is done, we will start the Piping in of our performers and head table.  We sing O Canada from the stage, and give welcome to our guests.  Warning: We usually ask you to sing for your supper.

Buy Your Raffle Tickets:

Please buy raffle tickets… this is how we generate our fundraising to support this organizations dedicated to multiculturalism and cultural harmony.  We purposely keep our admission costs low to $60 for so that they are affordable and the dinner can be attended by more people.  Children’s tickets are subsidized so that we can include them in the audience and be an inclusive family for the evening. We have some great door and raffle prizes lined up.  Lots of books (being the writers we are), gift certificates and theatre tickets + other surprises.

FREE Subscription for Ricepaper Magazine:

Everybody is eligible for a subscription to RicePaper Magazine, (except children). This is our thank you gift to you for attending our dinner. And to add value ($20) to your ticket. Pretty good deal, eh? Rice Paper Magazine is Canada’s best journal about Asian Canadian arts and culture, published by Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop,

This dinner is the primary fundraising event for:

 The Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dragon Boat team continues to promote multiculturalism through dragon boat paddling events. Some paddlers wear kilts, and we have been filmed for German, French, and Canadian television documentaries + other

Since 2001, Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop, has been a partner in this remarkable dinner event. ACWW works actively to give a voice to ermerging writers.  ACWW is the publisher of RicePaper Magazine.

Histoic Joy Kogawa House committee joined our family of recipients in 2006, during the campaign to save Joy Kogawa’s childhood home from demolition.  The Land Conservancy of BC stepped in to fundraise in 2005 and purchase Kogawa House in 2006 and turn it into a National literary landmark and treasure for all Canadians. In 2009, we celebrated our inaugural Writer-in-Residence program.

The FOOD

This year haggis dim sum appetizers will again be served. Haggis is mixed into the Pork  Siu-mei dumplings  Last year we introduced haggis pork dumplings (su-mei). This year we are adding vegetarian pan-fried turnip cake to represent “Neeps and Tatties.”  The secon

Soon after 6:00 pm the dinner formalities begin. People are seated, and the Piping in of the musicians and hosts begins.  We will lead a singalong of Scotland the Brave and give a good welcome to our guests, and have the calling of the clans – all the reserved tables and large parties of 10.  This is a tradition at many Scottish ceilidhs (kay-lees), or gatherings.

From then on… a new dish will appear every 15 minutes – quickly followed by one of our co-hosts introducing a poet or musical performer.  Serving 40 tables within 5 minutes, might not work completely, so please be patient.  We will encourage our guests and especially the waiters to be quiet while the performers are on stage. Then for the 5 minute intermissions, everybody can talk and make noise before they have to be quiet for the performers again.

The Performances

Expect the unexpected:  This year’s dinner event is full of surprises. Even I don’t know what is going to happen.  The idea is to recreate the spontaneity of the very first dinner for 16 people back in 1998 – but with 400+ guests.  For that dinner, each guest was asked to bring a song or a poem to share.  I don’t want to give anything away right now as I prefer the evening to unfold with a sense of surprise and wonderment.  But let it be known that we have an incredible array of talent for the evening. 

Poetry by Robbie Burns and Chinese Canadian poets.  What will it be?  We often like to read “Recipe for Tea” – a poem by Jim Wong-Chu, about the trading of tea from Southern China to Scotland

Musicians and dancers?  Some surprises for 2011

Our non-traditional reading of the “Address to the Haggis” is always a crowd pleaser.  But this year, audience members might also be reading a different Burns poem to tie their tongues around the gaelic tinged words.  Will it be “A Man’s A Man for All That,” “To a Mouse,” My Luv is Like a Red Red Rose,” or maybe even “Tam O-Shanter?”

The evening will wrap up somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30 pm, with the singing of Auld Lang Syne – with a verse in Mandarin Chinese. Then we will socialize further until 10pm.  People will leave with smiles on their faces and say to each other, “Very Canadian,”  “Only in Vancouver could something like this happen,” or “I’m telling my friends.”

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HIPPETY HOPPETY INTO A BRIGHT NEW YEAR AT WILD RICE

One ancient Chinese axiom states that if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing at least twice. Consider New Year’s for instance. There’s the ‘mainstream’ New Year’s Eve held on December 31st – a rather sedate affair by Chinese standards (elegant champagne, a few little noisemakers, steamers and silly hats). Since the idea of celebrating New Year is essentially a good one, why not do it again? This time hold a party that lasts 15 days and includes parades, dragon and lion dances, tons of noisy firecrackers and food, lots and lots of special food. Now, that’s a celebration worthy of welcoming a new year!

Hippety hoppety into the Chinese Year of the Rabbit (4709 if you’re counting) with a special prix fixe menu at Wild Rice. Proprietor Andrew Wong and Executive Chef Todd Bright have created a four-course dinner for the auspicious price of $38.88 (numeral three meaning ‘ever-growing’ and numeral eight meaning ‘good luck’) which will be available from February 2 to 13, 2011. Don’t worry, as much as many people enjoy the taste of rabbit, you won’t find Thumper on this menu. Instead, Wild Rice will donate 10 percent of the menu’s proceeds to support the Rabbit Rescue Shelter.

What you will find are four courses designed to seduce your taste buds while giving you wishes for a happy and prosperous year. As in traditional Chinese banquets, each of the courses includes ingredients with symbolic meanings. Get things off to a festive start with a Pink Bunny. Better known as a Kir Royale (sparkling wine and framboise), the Pink Bunny sends wishes for ‘good luck’ through its pinky red hue (red being the colour of ‘good luck’ in Chinese symbolism).

Ha Gow – little purse-shaped translucent pockets containing BC Spot Prawns, are the first course. Familiar as a dim sum dish, these generously sized dumplings, express wishes for good luck and increasing wealth with the Spot Prawn representing the ‘dragon’ (good luck) or ‘yang’ male principle while the shape of the dumplings connotes a money purse.

Next course is Pheasant and Squab San Choy Bow – Chef Bright’s modern take on a very old dish, the lettuce wrap. This one consists of local pheasant and squab minced with tasty mixture of

water chestnuts, green onions, shitake mushrooms, carrots, celery and onion flavoured with oyster sauce, sambal, rice wine and honey. The overall symbolism is of wealth and good fortune. The lettuce connotes new growth and beginnings. The rich dark meat of the pheasant and squab represent ‘flying up’ or ‘rising’ (as it is ‘air’ meat) as well as the female ‘yin’ principle (because it is dark) to balance the yang of the previous course.

Instead of serving the traditional Peking Duck, Chef Bright’s Duck breast accompanied by crispy Yukon Gold potato and duck leg confit cake served with steamed greens in a pinot noir jus brings many good wishes. The succulent, dark meat of the duck connoting richness while the Yukon Gold potato, by its very name, implies wealth. The cake shape is also a nod to gold coins with the greens representing new growth and the pinot noir jus implying more ‘good luck’ through its ‘redness.’

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 another dim sum dish – Lotus Wrap Eight-jewel Rice. In this instance, the Lotus Wrap encases a steamed glutinous rice and sweet red bean paste cake studded with cashews, sultanas, dried apricot. The rice is a symbol of ‘abundance’ as well as ‘fertility.’ Red beans are particularly lucky in Chinese culture signifying both ‘good luck’ (red colour) and ‘abundance.’ The nuts (like seeds) send the wish that you are surrounded by a large family with many children while the dried fruits bring sweet wishes. The rice cake is drizzled with a mandarin syrup (mandarins mean ‘riches’) which also add to the sweet wishes for an abundant life.

People born in the Year of the Rabbit are said to be the luckiest of all the zodiac signs, frequently artistic with many friends. They are admired for their good taste.

Demonstrate your good taste by hopping over to Wild Rice to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit in grand Chinese style. You’ll thank your lucky stars you did. Reservations are a good idea at www.wildricevancouver.com or 604-642-2882.

Wild Rice Modern Chinese, 117 W. Pender at Abbott, 604- 642-2882, www.wildricevancouver.com

Wild Rice Chinese New Year

HOLD THAT TIGER WITH ‘GRRRREAT’ CHINESE NEW YEAR’S MENU

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, Kellogg’s 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