Executive Chef Todd Bright
 Andrew Wong

In western culture, the snake has a bad rep – tempter of Eve, denizen of the underworld, as well as a slimy, slithery, creepy reptile. In China, however, the snake is honoured as wise, charming, and decisive. As the snake transforms and renews itself by sloughing off its skin, Snake Years are seen as times of change and renewal. Things don’t stay static in The Year of the Snake.
Chinese New Year’s Eve will kick off the Year of the Water Snake on February 9.

Inspired by classic Chinese feasts, Wild Rice Proprietor Andrew Wong and Executive Chef Todd Bright will be offering a special menu that pays homage to the Year of the Water Snake. A special Year of the Water Snake menu will be available at both locations from February 8 to 10 for the price of $38.88 (a very lucky number symbolizing ever-increasing good luck) for two people.

CNY 2013, Year of Snake Platter #2
[Roasted chicken breast on cabbage rolls stuffed with cashews, crispy dried tofu on glass noodles with black moss and water chestnuts, BBQ eel and bean sprout sui mai with watercress puree;
photo by Caroline Levy]

As in traditional Chinese banquets, each dish is rich with symbolic meanings meant to convey wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous year. Some of the symbolism is based on homonyms where the word for a dish or ingredients sounds like another Chinese word with an auspicious meaning. Others derive their symbolic connotations from the colour or the fact that they look like another good luck object.

CNY 2012, Dragon Platter for Two
[Dragon Platter; photo by Andrew Wong]

Wild Rice’s Year of the Water Snake Platter for Two will feature:
BBQ eel and bean sprout sui mai with watercress puree
Eel has always been considered a ‘snake of the sea,’. Bean sprouts convey the wish for a ‘good start to the new year’ while the fresh green of the watercress connotes thoughts of growth, renewal, and balance.
Glass noodles with black moss, water chestnuts, and crispy dried tofu
Noodles in Chinese culture symbolize a wish for long life. It is considered very back luck to cut noodles as it translates to cutting short the life span. Black moss (‘fat choy’) sounds like ‘fat cai’ meaning increasing wealth while the word for water chestnuts sounds like the word for unity. Dried tofu connotes ‘blessing the household’ and ‘fulfillment of wealth and happiness.’
Roasted chicken breast on cabbage rolls stuffed with cashews, accompanied by bamboo shoots, green onions, jasmine rice and walnuts with shitake jus
This chicken breast dish is a fun play on the western expression that ‘snake tastes just like chicken.’ The roasted crispy skin is symbolic of the sloughed snake skin. Cabbage rolls are stuffed packets and similar in shape to ancient Chinese gold ingots symbolizing prosperity as do the cashews and the bamboo shoots. Green onions signify intelligence, rice symbolizes fertility while the shitake mushroom symbolize longevity. Walnuts express the wish of ‘happiness for the entire family.’

NW, Dining Room NW, Lounge & Kitchen
[Wild Rice, New Westminster]

All Chinese New Year banquets end on a sweet note to wish participants sweetness in the coming year and this dinner is no exception. Chef Bright has created his own house-made version of the iconic fortune cookie.

Wild Rice will also feature a special drink: the Red Envelope Cocktail. During Chinese New Year, children traditionally receive gifts of money tucked into red envelopes (lai see). Wild Rice’s Red Envelope is strictly for grown-ups – a lucky combination of raspberry vodka, vodka, cassis, cranberry juice, and fresh lemon all for the auspicious price of $6 (the number six sounding like the word for ‘good luck’).

Chinatown, Main Dining Room Chinatown, Back Mezzanine
[Wild Rice, Vancouver]

Reservations for both locations are recommended and can be made either online or by phoning 604.642.2882 (Vancouver) or 778.397.0028 (New Westminster).

Wild Rice Vancouver is located at 117 West Pender Street; Wild Rice New West is located at 810 Quayside Drive in the River Market.

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