I’ll admit it: I’ve never liked change. So when I returned to campus this fall and saw yet another new Asian place in the Benson food court, I was very skeptical. As a senior, I’ve seen four restaurants in what I can only now describe consistently as the “place next to Chick-fil-A.”
The line of succession has been: Boar’s Head (rest in peace, unknown date – summer 2017), Take Two Asian-American Fusion (fall 2017 – summer 2018), Hissho Sushi (fall 2018 – summer 2019), and now, Wild Blue (fall 2019 – we’ll see).
Having had strong feelings about the cyclical replacement of the “place next to Chick-fil-A,” I knew I had to give Wild Blue a proper chance, so I’ve done my best in the past few weeks to try a sampling of their offerings.
Wild Blue’s sushi was one of my first meals back at Wake Forest this semester. The POD in Benson was one of the only places open, when the dining halls had weird hours at the beginning of the year. I went for the safest-looking option — a California roll with brown rice. Not being a fan of regular brown rice, I didn’t have very high expectations of brown rice sushi.
Even without high expectations (how much can you really expect from pre-packaged sushi?), I was sorely disappointed in my California roll. There was only one word to describe what I ate, and that word is wet. That’s not exactly a description one wants to hear in reference to sushi.
Maybe it was the brown rice, maybe it was just that particular roll having a bad day. The sushi in the POD, which is the same ones offered by Wild Blue at their station, was on the whole about a dollar and a half cheaper than Hissho Sushi. In this case, you truly get what you pay for.
While I won’t be having Wild Blue’s sushi again in the near future, I think at some point I’ll have to jump on the hipster bandwagon and try their poke bowls. Poke bowls are new to Wake Forest, and I think this exciting new addition gives Wild Blue serious contention as a good, modern Asian place on campus.
So far, I’ve been too wary to actually try any of the entrees. I’ve had several friends try them, and so my review here is based entirely on what they’ve told me.
Wild Blue offers an arrangement of typical Asian foods: sesame chicken, beef and broccoli, mapo tofu, white rice, fried rice, chow mein noodles, vegetable spring rolls and fried pork dumplings. One entree is $7.49, whereas two entrees are $7.99, so I’d say spring for it and spend the extra 50 cents to get double the options.
One friend — who has already tried a range of the new entrees, from chicken to beef — told me that, unlike the Asian place two years ago (Take Two Asian American Fusion), it is something he would actually go back and eat. To those who don’t remember the weird soggy noodles and overly salted chicken of Take Two, this is a ringing endorsement for Wild Blue.
Another friend had fried rice and tofu. According to her, the fried rice was fine, noting that it wasn’t much different than it had been last year. Her only real point of contention was that, while the tofu was fine, the sauce was a little too sugary for her liking.
The takeaway here seems to be that Wild Blue’s entrees are good. Nobody’s calling them great, but it’s definitely food that people seem willing to eat again, and that’s a good sign.
Having ramen — real ramen, not the stuff you can buy in a package or warm up in a cup — seems like a delicacy on a college campus. The ramen isn’t also a one-size-fits-all sort of deal; it’s customizable.
You get a choice of broth — miso, spicy miso, and tonkotsu. Options for meat are chicken char siu and pork chae siu. There are a multitude of veggie options, of which you can choose four: baby bok choy, bamboo shoots, broccoli, cabbage, cilantro, corn, fried onion, green onion, mushrooms and nori. The noodles are standard across all ramen bowls, and sure, they do sort of look like the packaged ones. And they all come with half a boiled egg.
I chose miso broth, pork, bamboo shoots, broccoli, mushrooms and green onions. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by this dish. The flavors of real ramen were there; the miso actually tasted like miso. It definitely tasted like it was meant to be on-the-go, but that’s what should be expected.
Overall, the question isn’t so much a question of quality, but a question of worth. At $10, it’s not something everyone on the standard meal plan can afford to eat all the time. Ramen was a worthy meal, relatively well-rounded and a decent, filling size. Maybe not totally worth $10, but definitely worth $10 every once in a while.
All in all, it seems like Wild Blue, with its usual standards and two new exciting options, is an improvement on the past Asian places in Benson. And luckily, it can only continue to get better from here.