On our second day in Vancouver we decided to check out Wild Rice, which I had read about in Food & Wine a while back. The restaurant was stunningly beautiful and modern, but still really comfortable. We sat at a great, tall table with bench seating in the bar area and got to see everyone’s dishes going by.
We started with caramelized shallot taro smash ($4 CAD) and edamame with soy braised Chinese greens and pine nuts ($5 CAD). I am not usually a huge fan of taro, but this dish was good and the caramelized shallots sweetened it up and made it more interesting. The greens were surprisingly good and flavorful considering the simple ingredients.
I ordered the Chinatown Sweep, a four spiced blend dusted bbq pork dish with east-west stir fry on crisped chow mein ($12 CAD). The spicy and fatty pork was to die for. The only thing I would have changed would be to add more of the delicious sauce to coat the crunchy chow mein.
Zach ordered the Su Dong wild boar (a Song Dynasty recipe), slowly braised in sweet soy, rice wine, maltose sugar and autumn spices with plantain chips on brown rice ($11 CAD). It was heavenly. I didn’t taste much gaminess in the boar; it was like really good quality pork. The sauce was so rich and complex that I can’t even describe it—you just have to go and order this to find out for yourself. The plantain chips were delicious as well, sliced lengthwise and beautifully presented in one end of the bowl like a flower arrangement.
For dessert we ordered the Shanghai road Szechwan scented chocolate mousse-roasted pistachios, mandarin orange segments & bamboo biscotti ($7 CAD). I didn’t care for this at all. The mousse was really bitter and was supposed to be mixed with a sweet liquid at the bottom before eating, which in my opinion gave it an unpleasant slimy texture and a strong alcoholic taste, but Zach thought it was good.
When we paid the bill ($39 CAD), I realized what day it was and felt relieved that we were in Canada for the inauguration. I was hell bent on not watching the news and seeing the talking monkey that we call President, so we went to the aquarium.
I heart the Vancouver Aquarium. I haven’t been to many aquariums, but I have to say that this one is the best I’ve seen. They had really, really beautiful informative displays and gorgeous tanks. When we walked into the Amazon Gallery, the arapaima stopped me dead in my tracks. I’ve never seen such an enormous fish. Apparently at 15 feet in length, the arapaima is the largest fish in the Amazon. Uh, now I sound like National Geographic, but anyways… it was so entrancing that I forgot to take a picture.
They also had a “Treasures of the BC Coast” display which I thought was a really cool idea. Each section of coast had a display area with the typical sea life for that region. After an hour or so, we finally made it out to the outdoor tanks. They had pretty Beluga whales, but they weren’t doing anything interesting. (The last time I saw Belugas was at the Point Defiance Zoo where two males were doing some underwater sword fighting with their penises. It was really funny listening to the adults explain to their kids what the whales were doing.)
We also saw an enormous sea lion who developed a crush on Zach and would bat his eyelashes whenever Zach walked by. I fell in love with the sea otter pup who was so damned cute that he made me want to go to marine biology school. Zach’s favorite was Spinnaker the dolphin who was very speedy and could jump about 30 feet into the air—when there were sufficient treats to be had.
Later we had dinner at the much anticipated Lumiere. I have been talking about Lumiere, pretty much non-stop for the past two years. I’ve never eaten in the dining room area, but I just love the bar. It’s slick and modern and every exquisite dish on the bar menu is just $12. And that’s $12 CANADIAN!
We started out with some seasonal cocktails: I had the salt & pepper highball, which was strangely bitter and full of pepper and Zach had a sazerac, which he loved.
I insisted that we order the Foie Gras Decouverte ($36 CAD), which is a special sampling plate consisting of three different preparations of foie gras:
Foie Gras Boudin Blanc with Truffle Oil—A beautiful and light mousse-filled sausage drizzled with truffle oil. Ooooohh.
Foie Gras Torchon with Cognac Poached Prunes on Toasted Brioche—A rich, dense and perfectly smooth disk of foie gras paired with amazing poached prunes. Aaaaahh.
Seared Foie Gras with Fruit Compote—Foie Gras in its purest form. Incredibly good and delicious with a touch of sweet fruit. I honestly shed a small tear. It was that good.
Zach and I later had this conversation over IM, arguing over who loved the foie gras more…
Zach: when you took the first bite of the foie gras at lumiere, you totally looked like a junkie right after shooting up
Me: um, you did too
Zach: how could you see me with your eyes rolling back into your head?
Me: you uttered words i never thought i’d hear you say
Zach: i say sweet baby jesus fairly often
Me: you’re just as bad
Zach: i know i am
Zach: i like that we have that in common
We then ordered two dishes of the regular bar menu and the special of the day, which was monkfish wrapped in prosciutto with mushrooms and potato puree ($18 CAD). There aren’t words to really describe it except delicious and satisfying. Eating it made me take a deep breath and feel contented and happy.
From the bar menu came sake & maple syrup-marinated with sautÃ©ed potatoes and leeks, shimiji, short-rib meat and soy & hijiki broth ($12 CAD), which Zach loved. Sablefish borders on too rich for me (especially after sampling three different kinds of foie gras!), so I didn’t eat much of this, but it was really good.
Last came the Moules et Frites, which were Gallo mussels with lemongrass, ginger, red peppers and chili aioli ($12 CAD). This was fantastic as well and I liked that the lemongrass lightened the dish, but we were way too full to eat much more at this point. Our food total came to $78 CAD, but we definitely ordered one too many dishes—I think you could get a fantastic and filling meal for two for less than $60 CAD.
I love Lumiere, I love Rob Feenie and I love Iron Chef—which is why I’ll buy, beg or steal cable to watch Iron Chef America*, Masaharu Morimoto vs. Rob Feenie on Feb 20 at 9pm. I suggest you do the same.
*Yes, I agree, Iron Chef America sucks and it’s a poor substitute for the original, but I’m praying that Alton Brown makes a better host then the ubiquitous William Shatner (and by ubiquitous, I mean cheesy as hell).