FOOD FIGHT: Vegans and carnivores can eat together at Wild Rice

Don’t let size deceive you. The polenta fries are not for the faint of heart.

Wild Rice Market Bistro is a spacious and modern-chic Asian-fusion restaurant in River Market (810 Quayside Drive, #122). What I love about Wild Rice is that they pride themselves on using fresh, local, and organic ingredients to create their unique recipes inspired by East meets West. It can be a little on the pricey side for students, but you can easily make it work by going with friends and splitting various main dishes — a lot of them are hefty portions.

The menu is ever so convenient for vegans, offering a plethora of dishes to choose from, including appetizers and desserts. You don’t have to worry about anyone at the table being unhappy here: they can order anything, from the infamous Peking duck tacos to a refreshing spicy tofu wrap.

The polenta fries were quite good, well-seasoned, and crispy, but I’m not sure if I would order them again. At almost a dollar per fry, it was way too pricy for the awkward grittiness of fried cornmeal. They were also horrifyingly filling; do not underestimate this tiny bowl and try to eat them on your own as an appetizer unless you want to suffer.

The spicy chicken kung po can be made vegan with tofu instead of the chicken, and it’s amazing, featuring thin rice noodles coated in a phenomenal coconut peanut sauce. I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed because in the menu it said “spicy,” but the dish was simply mild and nutty instead. This dish is the size of a small infant, so this is one to share with a table. I barely dented the bowl before tapping out, thanks to the fucking polenta fries.

The curried steam buns let me down because of the out-of-place texture of a certain tougher root vegetable inside the bun. The vegan butter “chicken” was just a butter chicken sauce with vegetables accompanied by rice, and was quite mediocre.

Now let’s talk about the noteworthy creative and seasonal cocktails. Some of my favourite drinks are from here. The crushed velvet is a perfect berry bliss, sitting comfortably in between sweet and tart. The lotus cocktail is tropical and fresh. I’m not going to outright say that I would drink a pitcher of each anytime soon, but I’m not going to deny that offer, either.

Mentally throw all the dessert options in the trash except for one precious gemstone of a dessert: the decadent Callebaut chocolate pyramid. My soul is still exclaiming about this. It was hands down the best dessert I’ve ever had, and boy, I’ve had many.

The pyramid is made up of a silky smooth light pudding with a thin chocolate layer at the bottom and sea salt on the top. It comes with wine-poached pears which go masterfully with the chocolate pyramid, bringing together the elegant flavour combo of wine, fruit, and chocolate.

Wild Rice has its winning dishes and meh dishes, but it’s definitely more positive than not. The atmosphere is great: family-friendly and chic at the same time, which God knows is a sick illusion. The service is helpful and professional, and the open kitchen adds to the element of the home-like vibe the owner clearly wanted to depict.