The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | Gastown’s Pidgin is currently seeking an enthusiastic part-time floor manager and server to join their team. Candidates must have experience working in a fast-paced restaurant setting and have a strong passion for hospitality, food and drink. Please submit your applications to resumes [at] pidginyvr.com. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more
This good looking Makoto Ono starter dish currently on the menu at Pidgin on the DTES is a wee delicacy of delicacies: exquisite mushrooms, fresh snap peas, ooze-suspended ramen eggs – all set off in the mouth by a soy yuzu brown butter that just doesn’t quit. | $12
350 Carrall St. | Vancouver, BC | 604-620-9400 | www.pidginvancouver.com
The Downtown Eastside (DTES) is a catch all descriptor for the neighbourhoods east of Cambie, west of Clark, north of Prior, and south of the waterfront. Technically, it includes Gastown, Strathcona, Chinatown, and Railtown/Japantown, but we’ve separated each of these for their individual characters and are treating the DTES here much as the zeitgeist does: as the slowly shrinking collection of blocks east of Carrall, west of Jackson, north of Pender, and south of Cordova. If you have a different interpretation of the landscape and its borders, good for you!
Sadly, it’s safe to say that most Canadian’s view the DTES as less as a community and more of a sensational eyesore; an urban blight box crammed with a loose association of kid-gloved petty criminals, dealers, addicts, and people with mental health issues operating in and around bed bug-infested Single Room Occupancy hotels, daily dodging a very real minefield of violence and disease in often third world living conditions.
That might appear to be superficially true, but the reality is a lot more complicated and nuanced. The DTES is not, for example, “Canada’s poorest postal code”, as it is so often claimed. Neither is it Vancouver’s most transient neighbourhood (that distinction goes to the West End). And if you ask a resident if they feel like they belong to a genuine community, the answer will be a resounding “yes”.
A fierce sense of belonging would naturally coalesce and strengthen in any neighbourhood that was so institutionally demonized, referred to constantly from within and without as “a huge problem”. By policing it in a petty and punitive fashion, insulting it passive aggressively (or fully in the face), trying to price its residents out, or even pretending that it doesn’t exist, the people who see it as an abomination (or rather as a financial opportunity) have only made the community more suspicious of (and resistant to) change.
To wit, “The Downtown Eastside needs to be destroyed,” an editorial in The Province newspaper has declared. “The more residents who are pushed out, the better. It is unconscionable that such a hellhole should exist in a province as wealthy as B.C., in a country as advanced as Canada.” Now, if someone wrote that kind of trash about you and where you lived, you’d likely get your back up, too. Because not everyone who lives on the DTES fits the hysterical stereotype, and those that do are not so bereft of humanity as to not notice when someone tries to rob them of what little humanity they have left.
Indeed, if there’s anything to celebrate on the DTES, it’s that in spite of the high instance of mental illness; homelessness; the AIDS and Hepatitis C epidemics; heroin, crack cocaine, and crystal meth; a long and horrifying history of sexual abuse (before Robert Pickton, violence against First Nations women was treated as a fact of life on the DTES); and the way in which the rest of the city – not to mention the provincial and federal governments – views it through the prism of a largely unsympathetic corporate media; the DTES remains a strong, vibrant, and essential facet of Vancouver that – to its eternal credit – isn’t afraid to stand up for itself.
While other neighbourhoods protest against comparatively first-world affronts like bike lines, casinos, art installations, high rises, and funeral homes, residents of the DTES’ dwindling core demonstrate for vital services and in opposition to real or perceived threats against their ability to remain residents. They don’t always protest wisely (targeting small businesses is a nonsensical exercise in quixotic futility), but that they organize and advance a message that needs to be heard by all citizens despite often crippling circumstances is as commendable as it is all too often tragically ignored.
Looking around the DTES today it’s sometimes hard to imagine that it was the beating heart of Vancouver less than a century ago. The banks, the newspapers, the courts, even City Hall once called it home. But while it’s important to remember that the neighbourhood wasn’t always as it is now, romancing the DTES’ past or speculating on its future belittles a present crisis that doesn’t have much in the way of room for halcyon reminiscences or high hopes. The area needs help, and it needs help now; help that new condos and businesses can’t directly give. It requires assistance from the provincial and federal governments in the form of new, affordable housing, a long overdue increase to the welfare shelter allowance of $375 per month (there has only been only one increase since 1992), the non-politicization of harm reduction programs, and – in a hurry – a serious approach to mental health care that includes new facilities, preferably located in whichever affluent neighbourhood complains about them the most.
Change on the DTES is a good thing, and we’re all for it, just so long as the people who live there can continue to call it home.
Left to right: Pat’s Lager at Pat’s Pub in the Patricia Hotel; Victorian era purple/blue glass basement prisms; Ovaltine Cafe neon tri-colour; the grass of Oppenheimer Park; Carnegie Community Centre; duo of road colours at Main & Hastings; No. 5 Orange; dormant Salvation Army building exterior at Gore & Main; VPD blue; needle tip orange.
INSITE, THE CONTROVERSIAL BUT LIFE-SAVING SAFE INJECTION SITE
THE SAD, FORLORN EMPTY SHELLS OF THE ONLY AND THE LOGGER’S SOCIAL CLUB
THE RAMP CAM AT THE SMILING BUDDHA SKATEPARK
A COMPETITIVE MARKET FOR STREET CIGARETTES
THE GOOD WORKS OF THE PORTLAND HOTEL SOCIETY
THE INCOMPARABLE INTERIOR OF THE OVALTINE CAFE
BARGAIN HUNTERS COMBING THE PIGEON PARK STREET MARKET
THE CRUEL AND UNUSUAL ASSHOLERY OF SOME OF THE STREET-LEVEL DRUG DEALERS
A NETWORK OF ALLEYWAYS THAT ARE BEST AVOIDED
SWEET DUDS AT COMMUNITY & THE FROCK SHOPPE
OLD, RESPECTFUL GUYS WHO YELL “KIDS ON THE BLOCK” WHENEVER PEOPLE WALK PAST WITH CHILDREN
KOREAN PANCAKES AT THE DUNLEVY SNACKBAR
CHICKPEA BURGERS AND KALE CAESARS AT RAINIER PROVISIONS
BEEF DIP SANDWICHES AND HOUSE LAGER AT PAT’S PUB
BEAN TO BAR AND CUP CHOCOLATE & COFFEE AT EAST VAN ROASTERS
GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES AT THE OVALTINE CAFE
AVO ON TOAST WITH EARL GREY TEA AT NELSON THE SEAGULL
JERK FRIES & RUM FLIGHTS AT CALABASH
PRETZEL SAMBOS & BEER FLIGHTS AT BITTER TASTING ROOM
CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE AWFUL AWFUL AT SAVE ON MEATS
CRISPY CHICKEN W/ FRIED RICE AND THE VEGGIE PHO AT HANOI PHO
CHICKEN WINGS & VITELLO TONNATO AT PIDGIN
- In 1917, the Food Floor in Woodwards at Hastings & Abbott was the largest of its kind in the world.
- Vancouver’s City Hall was formerly located next to Carnegie Centre at Main and Hastings.
- The bell at St. James’ Church (then on Powell and Main) was, for many, the warning siren of the Great Fire in 1886; the melted remnants can be found at the Vancouver Museum.
- The First Nations name for Crab Park (Portside) is Lucklucky, meaning “Grove of Beautiful Trees”. The name “Crab” originates from the Create a Real Available Beach (CRAB) initiative by DTES residents in the early 1980s.
- In 1989 Vancouver launched North America’s first needle exchange program in an effort to promote harm reduction for residents of the Downtown Eastside. In 2003 North America’s only legal supervised injection site, Insite, was founded.
- The multi-height, 45 ft. wide half-pipe at the Smiling Buddha was built using the bones of several historic Vancouver skate ramps, including the original Richmond Skate Ranch and the Expo ’86 vert ramp.
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | Gastown’s Pidgin restaurant celebrates the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi by offering guests their very own taste of “Putin’s Pride”. Fashioned by barman Robyn Gray, Putin’s Pride is a limited edition cocktail made with Mount Gay Rum, Cointreau, pineapple syrup, and coconut water. It is then garnished with rainbow ice cubes and rimmed with political controversy. Read more
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | Gastown’s Pidgin is pleased to announce the addition of Justin Darnes to their front of house team. Former barman of Savoy American Bar at London’s Savoy hotel and head bartender at House Guest Supper Club and George Ultra Lounge, Darnes brings over fourteen years experience and an abundance of creativity to the bar.
Hailing from England, Darnes joins Pidgin with a resume boasting experience behind the wood of some of the world’s most reputable bars. His background includes stints as bar manager at London Design Week and the Cannes Film Festival, as well as being a top graduate of the Absolut Pro Academy and Bacardi ‘Pourfection’ Pro Bartending program. A longtime consultant and the creator of the world’s first 100% biodynamic cocktail, Darnes brings a wealth of innovation and experience to Pidgin’s bar program. Read more
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | Gastown’s Pidgin is currently seeking enthusiastic full-time and part-time servers and bartenders to join their team. Candidates must have experience working in a fast-paced restaurant setting and have a strong passion for hospitality, food and drink. Please submit your applications to resumes [at] pidginyvr.com. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | Looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of New Year’s Eve? Forget the stresses of planning a party, spending a fortune on event tickets or worrying about a dress code; Pidgin separates itself from the rest, offering guests a way to ring in the New Year in a casual yet refined way. While everyone’s busy doing something, Gastown’s Pidgin plans a night with no strings attached.
Revellers are invited to join Pidgin on December 31st for a no-holds-barred evening with a no-pressure, no-ticket-necessary, no-reservation-needed (although they are recommended) and no-set-tasting-menu New Year’s Eve to remember. Raise a glass of bubbly with friends and family while enjoying executive chef Makoto Ono’s innovative everyday menu, featuring dishes that are delicate and playful, combining flavours from both east and west.
Again, no tickets are necessary. Walk-ins start at $0 per guest, which includes an opportunity to order from Pidgin‘s inventive menu at everyday prices. To find out more, please call Pidgin at 604-620-9400 or book online at www.pidginyvr.com. Read more
Our friends at MKDIR have just released a new video that romances Gastown’s Pidgin restaurant. It was clearly shot in summer (that light doesn’t lie), so expect to feel a slight tingling of longing when you press play.
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | Gastown’s Pidgin gets into the holiday spirit with 5 inventive, classically rooted winter drinks that will make the top of any cocktail connoisseur’s wish list. Pidgin’s head barman, Robyn Gray, has assembled a collection of quality cocktails to warm up the holidays.
This winter, try the All Scrooged Up, a chocolate orange cocktail made with vodka, winter syrup, and muddled Japanese orange topped with chocolate foam. Add some spice to the season with the Flip D’Hiver, a cocktail prepared with Asian 5 spice rum, Amaro Averna, pear nectar, maple syrup and a whole egg that gives it a snowy foam top (dusted with a dash of nutmeg). Other cocktails include French 75 (Pre-Prohibition) made with cognac, lemon, and cane syrup served in an elegant champagne flute, and the Irish Sour shaken and fine-strained with whiskey, lemon juice, Guinness syrup, Irish bitters and egg white.
And special to the list is the Mostaccioli, a winning cocktail fashioned by the late Derek Vanderhiede for The BC Hospitality Foundation’s Dish‘n’Dazzle competition. The tasty concoction features bourbon with Tuaca liqueur, vermouth, whiskey barrel bitters and is garnished with express orange oil and outfitted with a moustache cherry pick and coaster. Read more
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | On November 5th at 6:30pm, join the Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement (ALIVE) Society and learn about Motivate Canada’s GEN7 initiative while enjoying the creativity of chef Makoto Ono and the PiDGiN kitchen, recently named one of the top restaurants in the country by enRoute magazine. Building new relationships is a key part of the GEN7 program, an initiative which trains and supports Aboriginal youth leaders to “hunt in both worlds”, as advocated by the late Chief Dan George. The Vancouver program began in 2012 when ALIVE partnered with the respected national youth organization Motivate Canada (MC), the Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre, the Vancouver Park Board, and the First Nations Employment Society (FNES) to implement a plan to train Aboriginal youth (16-24) in leadership skills, and anchor them in five selected community centres to act as role models. Each $5000.00 raised provides one more urban Aboriginal youth the ability to participate in this unique opportunity. Get all the details after the jump. Read more
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | Pidgin invites guests to join Vancouver’s preeminent sakemaker Masa Shiroki to explore the unique flavours of Toshimori Shuzo’s Sakehitosuji collection. On October 29th at 6PM, Masa matches rice wines with a five-course tasting menu designed by Pidgin’s executive chef Makoto Ono.
Toshimori Shuzo is a boutique sake producer, crafting sake of the highest quality from the warmer western region of Okayama since 1898. The brewery devoted years to reviving “Akaiwa Omachi”, an extinct wild rice stock known to be the grandfather of a number of popular sake rice varieties. Mr. Tamura, Toshimori Shuzo’s Toji or master sakemaker, uses this rare single-variety rice grain to create premium sakes with distinct characteristics and rare flavour profiles.
The Sakehitosuji brand, meaning “the absolute dedication to sake making,” has become synonymous with this unique regional specialty and quality ingredients. Shuzo’s sake is highly recognized and celebrated locally and internationally. It has been awarded at the prestigious ALL-JAPAN New Sake Competition and Monde Selection’s International Contest of Wines.
The Toshimori Shuzo dinner is $100 per person including tax and gratuity, with limited seating available. The evening includes a five-course tasting menu with an amuse bouche and dessert, all paired with sake. Guests are encouraged to reserve early by calling the restaurant at 604-620-9400. Check out the Sakehitosuji Sake line-up after the jump… Read more
Makoto Ono – Executive Chef
Brandon Grossutti – General Manager
Hao-Yang Wang – Assistant General Manager
Amanda Cheng – Pastry Chef
Robyn Gray – Bar Manager
Common cuts rendered sublime. Deceptively simple staples skewed and polished with Asian elegance. Large format family-style ssäm with the attention to detail and flavour usually reserved for highly composed dishes. These are the cornerstones of Chef Makoto Ono’s food. Rarely predictable, never overwrought and fussy, always thoughtful, cared for, and prepared with the utmost integrity.
At PiDGiN, there is no need for distinctions between casual and fine dining. A restaurant can be both beautiful and comfortable; cuisine can be at once delicate and approachable. As dining perspectives have changed, so too has the line between east and west. Pidgin’s chefs and owners draw inspiration from their travels and work experience on different continents which is reflected in the restaurant’s design, drinks list and cuisine.
The bar pays its respects to classic cocktails with fresh interpretations that make good use of our region’s fine local bounty. For the more adventurous the taps pour local sake. By the glass and bottle is a tight wine list, bolstered by a well-curated reserve list for those seeking something truly special. Perhaps most exciting is the harmony between kitchen and bar, a collaboration that ensures equal attention to detail and creativity with the ladies and gentlemen behind the wood and stoves.
Craig Stanghetta of Ste. Marie based PiDGiN’s design around the food and approach of chef Makoto Ono. Much like the namesake, the design borrows liberally from different schools of thought. Curated ephemera, inverted subway tile and contemporary lighting stand against clean Japanese joinery, simple panel moulding and an intentionally sparse and functional layout. The mandate was to be disparate and somehow achieve balance, much like each dish that leaves the kitchen.
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | Pidgin is set to feature a five-course tasting menu on September 24 at 6:30PM. It will guest-hosted by Tomonobu Mitobe, owner/operator of Japan’s Mitobe brewery. Mitobe will guide diners on a journey through the flavours and aromas of the Yamagata Masamune Sake collection while executive chef Makoto Ono will pair the drinks with a five-course menu complete with amuse bouche and dessert.
A small-scale artisan with generations of wisdom and experience in the sake industry, Mitobe Sake Brewery uses traditional methods to produce the Yamagata Masamune collection. Local mineral water from the Tachiya River and neighbouring rice and noble rice varietals result in crisp and refined flavour profiles. The brewery pays homage to Masamune, Japan’s legendary swordsmith, by crafting clean-cutting, smooth and superior quality sake.
The Yamagata Masamune Sake event is $100 per person, including tax and gratuity, with limited seating available. The evening includes a five-course tasting menu, with an amuse bouche and dessert, all paired with sake. Guests are encouraged to reserve early by calling the restaurant at 604-620-9400. Check out the full Sake Lineup after the jump… Read more