The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | PiDGiN has caught its breath and is ready to change the channel to our kitchen and bar. We feel it’s time to talk about food and drink and less about politics. We are introducing a series of prix fixe menus to be shared in pairs starting at $35.00 per guest. Enjoy up to 10 dishes with a friend / a cousin / a lover and experience a balanced tasting of what PiDGiN is about. We will be offering flights of soju, sake, or 2 cocktails with our prix fixe selections for a $20.00 supplement per guest.
We are also debuting a late-night menu for those in the neighbourhood who crave our (soon-to-be) famous chicken wings while savouring a feature drink from our bar. This menu will feature some night owl-exclusive items as well as a selection of dishes from our daily sheet. PiDGiN is currently open until midnight (with plans to extend our hours) for your late-night dining and thirst quenching needs. Read more
by Andrew Morrison | As many of our regular readers are well aware, the recently opened PiDGiN restaurant on Carrall has seen its entrance picketed nightly by protestors who view the eatery is an unwanted agent of gentrification on the Downtown Eastside. There’s been an active, oft-emotional and occasionally bizarre conversation about it in one of our comment threads. The restaurant has stayed mum on the protests until a little over an hour ago, when the following statement was released:
First and foremost PiDGiN is about food and dining experience; we have worked tirelessly to create something that all Vancouverites can be proud to call their own. Our focus on food, bar, service and design will contribute to an already thriving reputation as an international destination for great hospitality and culinary exploits. That said, we are intimately aware of where we call home and all the responsibility that comes with. PiDGiN is by definition a bridging of language and culture and our location is not haphazard; we are opening in the most diverse and interesting part of the city and that’s why we are here.
Over the course of the last 7 months of building PiDGiN we have supported and created a dialogue to integrate ourselves within the community. It has been our mandate since inception to introduce programs that will contribute and support the great efforts made within the DTES. We are implementing donation programs which all proceeds will go to charities that will be crowd-source picked by our patrons and residents of the DTES as well as creating food programs for residents of the DTES. During the build process we worked with groups in the neighbourhood, including The Window and Beauty Night, we also gave work to those that asked on the construction site as well as outside. Upon opening we have employed 2 DTES residents, local recycling, window washing, Blue Shell for linens and interior cleaning and will continue to hire within the neighbourhood wherever we can.
When choosing this location we knew that there would be a stark contrast between what is outside and inside. Rather than this being viewed as a negative we believe it starts a conversation, one that is overdue. Our patrons come from the DTES and all over the city, some of which have never taken a step in Pigeon Park. This venue is on the divide between the east and west of the city and can serve as an opportunity to bring a more integrated community, where we can better understand each other’s viewpoints and struggles.
Despite the fact that the protestors have chosen to confront this business, we all agree, there absolutely needs to be more dignified housing and services for low income residents of the DTES, our inability to help those most in need in our society is a horrid reflection of the lack of progress by all levels of government. Rather than us being divided in our fight to help those in need, we welcome a dialogue with them and other community leaders to focus our collective strength on the real problems facing the DTES, not on a small business trying to be socially responsible.
Take it as you will. My view on the restaurant – which remains unchanged – is here.
by Andrew Morrison | I think the restaurant that I’m most excited about on our Anticipated Openings list is PiDGiN. It’s the upcoming Gastown effort from past Canadian Culinary Champion Makoto Ono. You might remember us breaking the news of its coming last summer:
Ono 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 [in 2011] 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.
The project has been evolving since March, and plans for the redeveloped addresses of 350 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).
Ono is an incredibly gifted chef. He could have gone to Montreal or Toronto or decided to stay in China or Winnipeg, so it’s our good fortune that he picked a spot off Hastings instead. I say “good fortune” because I trust PiDGiN to be an above average dining experience. It won’t be traditional fine dining, but I do expect it to be one of the better restaurants in the city when it launches.
My hope is that it will be like a Japanese/Korean Bao Bei of sorts, the kind of place where cuisines are interpreted idiosyncratically but with respect by an experienced and imaginative chef whose confidence and competence sing loud and clear across on the plate. I definitely see that in every one of Ono’s plates presented in the photo gallery below (all the food shots are by TT Lui). This hope is also buoyed by Ono’s choice of designer: Craig Stanghetta, the same fellow (interview) responsible for the looks at Meat & Bread, Revolver, Clough Club, and Pizzeria Farina (he also had a hand in the stunning aesthetics at Bao Bei, so it’s not like I’m pulling my hope out of my ear…).
Beyond sharing a thought or two, the point of this post was fourfold: to let readers know that PiDGiN is on track to open in early February, to reveal some shots of the construction progress (hats off to the Tetherstone crew), to give some indication of Ono’s game by teasing some of the plates he has planned for opening day (without knowing what they are), and to make all of those individuals who are interested aware that opportunity knocks. To wit:
PiDGiN is looking for a Bartender and Lead Host/Hostess to join our opening team. The ideal Bartender will have an intimate knowledge of all classics and be ready to join a top notch team behind the wood. The ideal Host/Hostess will have previous restaurant experience and knowledge of OpenTable. Both candidates will have a passion for food and beverage, be self-motivated with a pro-active attitude, and share our commitment to offer our guests exceptional service. Please reply with your resume and availability details to resumes [at] pidginyvr.com.
Seeing how Gastown is ground zero in Western Canada’s cocktail culture, the bartending opportunities here are pretty huge. Though I’m keen to work my way through Ono’s menu (so I can at least discover what I’m looking at in Lui’s photos), I’m also looking forward to seeing who ends up on the wood. Less than a month to go…
Andrew Morrison lives and works in Vancouver as editor-in-chief of Scout and National Referee & Judge at the Gold Medal Plates and Canadian Culinary Championships. He also contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and television shows on local food, culture and travel; collects inexpensive things; and enjoys rare birds, skateboards, cocktails, shoes, good pastas, many songs, and the smell of camp fires.