DINER: Star Chef Makoto Ono Has Landed In Vancouver To Open “Pidgin” In Gastown

August 11, 2012.

One of Canada’s culinary giants, Makoto Ono, has secured two side-by-side locations just off Hastings on Carrall Street in Gastown with plans to open a new restaurant before Christmas.

Ono, you might remember, was the first to win gold at the Canadian Culinary Championships back in 2007. He’s been on the ascendancy ever since, opening the eponymous “Makoto” in Beijing and the celebrated “Liberty Private Works” in Hong Kong.

He returned from China last year to guest chef at his father’s famed restaurant, Edohei, in Winnipeg. The revered sushi establishment closed in late February (Sadao retired), which freed Makato up for this project. There was some speculation that Makoto would head to Toronto, but lucky for us, he decided to return to Vancouver instead, where he went to culinary school and where his girlfriend works as a pastry chef.

I suspect that Pidgin, as the new restaurant is called, will be something of a summation of Ono’s career to date. The concept will see a hybrid of Japanese and French cuisine with a thread of Korean weaving throughout. The name alludes to the expression of that combination, and to Pigeon Park, which is right across the street.

The menu will offer share plates, from small to very large, priced from $10 to $25 per. The wine and cocktail program will be buttressed by a healthy supply of sake, baekseju and even soju, all designed to wrap neatly around the food conept. They keenly aware that Gastown is very much a cocktail-forward neighbourhood, and I suspect they’ll be putting a little skin in the game. I’m told that they haven’t hired a bar manager yet, so get your CV ready.

The project has been evolving since March, and plans for the redeveloped addresses of 350/356 Carrall (combining for some 1808 sqft) have already been submitted to the City. What they envision is a stylish 66 seater with a 10 seat bar. They’re also considering doing a chef’s table (which I wholeheartedly encourage them to do).

I’ll be writing a little bit more in the paper next week, so I’ll leave it at that for now, except to say that Craig Stanghetta is locked in for the design, so it’s pretty much guaranteed to be an exceptionally pretty space (if you are unfamiliar with Stanghetta’s work, read an interview with him here, have a coffee at Revolver, a drink at Bao Bei, and then bites at Farina and Meat & Bread).

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