Monday, January 21, 2008

Restaurants: Wild Rice, Fairfield, CT

It seems as though I'd been watching the renovation at 1612 Post Road in Fairfield forever. The tired building that once housed a chocolate store, an insurance agency, a short-lived tea shop, and an aging "townie" bar, slowly began the process of modernization well over a year ago. The space was gutted and redivided, and the facade got a complete face lift. When a cosmetics store and a trendy men's clothing store opened, I was happy enough, but when I saw the sign announcing that the remaining space would open as "Wild Rice---Sushi and Pan Asian Cuisine"--then I got really excited. Wild Rice opened in October 2007 and has been bustling ever since.

The fun, contemporary vibe of Fairfield's newest Asian eatery starts before one even enters the door. Modern, cylindrical exterior lights are mounted above a wall of floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows, and give passers-by a glimpse into the dimly lit, urban-chic interior. Once inside, guests are greeted by the hostess, who leads the way through the dining room, which features high ceilings and wooden plank walls. A long sushi bar runs down the center of the L-shaped space, with plenty of seating for curious diners.
Upon being seated, a small plate of marinated veggies is placed on the table. It doesn't look particularly appetizing, but he crunchy combination of carrots, cucumber, cabbage, and horseradish (yes, horseradish!) is fabulous. Even my kids liked it. The manager explained that the veggies are marinated in vinegar, sugar and chili peppers, which infuse all the veggies and render them sweet and delicious with a tiny kick. It is definitely a healthier and tastier alternative to the greasy fried noodles and duck sauce typically found in Asian restaurants.

The pan-Asian menu is extensive, but not overwhelming once you figure out the format. The appetizers are divided into five categories: Dim Sum, Sushi, Kitchen Appetizers, Soups, and Salads. Entrees are also divided into sections--sushi and Asian dishes. If you're in the mood for sushi, there are several entrees which feature assorted sushi and sashimi, and come with soup or salad. If you prefer to make your own selections, there is a large "a la carte" menu featuring Classic Rolls, Contempo Rolls, Veggie Rolls, and Sushi/Sashimi.
The rest of the menu is dedicated to other traditional Asian dishes, with category headings like Contempo Dishes, Noodle & Rice Dishes, and South East Asian/Red China Dishes. The Contempo menu includes traditional Chinese favorites like General Tso's Chicken and Mandarin Beef. I always seem to be drawn to the noodle dishes (the pasta lover in me!), and Wild Rice offers plenty of options. A wide variety of noodle and rice dishes may each be ordered alone, or with chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, or vegetables.

The South East Asian/Red China selections allow diners to choose their type of protein (chicken, pork, tofu, shrimp, scallop or calamari), white or brown rice, and one of the many specialty sauces listed to create a personalized Pan-Asian dish. There is definitely something for everyone, from the pickiest eaters, to those more on the adventurous side. All the dishes are served family style and are perfect for sharing. However, if you are like me, and don't like to share food with anyone other than my husband, the bowls in which the food is served are not so embarrassingly big that you'd feel self-conscious.
Although there was plenty on the regular menu that would appeal to kids, there is not an actual children's menu offered. They do have high-chairs, but no booster seats, nor do they offer plastic cups (with or without tops) for the younger diners. Be sure to ask your server if s/he will fashion a kid-friendly set of chopsticks. Your little ones will love trying to master them, even if a few things do end up on the floor.

Wild Rice is a welcome addition to the Post Road in Fairfield, and is a sleek but casual, spot in which to sample a wide variety of pan-Asian dishes. I overheard one diner proclaim, "thank goodness I don't have to go out of town anymore to get a good Pad Thai fix!" Thank goodness is right!
Wild Rice
1612 Post Road Fairfield, CT 06824
My favorites: WonTon Soup, Steamed Vegetable Spring Rolls, Sesame Chicken, & Chow Fun Noodles.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I may not have the best experience in determing what is "great" sushi but I loved this restaurant! I recommend the caribbean roll or the tex mex roll for a new taste experience! Definitely not your standard sushi, but fun for the palate. The lemon cream shrimp tempura with honey walnuts was also delicious and so different! Great service too, friendly and welcoming. Prices are reasonable as well.