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There are Pigeon Park politics, just as there were Pioneer Place politics, CPR politics, etcetera. Now there are also Pidgin politics, the complexities of which we do not dare address in this, our inadequate forum.  But what of Pidgin, restaurant?

Past those protesters, the doors and the unfortunate hostess, lies a minimal room, appendages decorating the wall behind the bar, cleaver in hand.  Broken tiles hang from a string in each bathroom. The violence is undoubtedly unintentional, assumedly not a political statement, and mostly missed by the patrons.

It's a small plates concept, meaning that while each item on the menu might be $20 or less, it'll take at least two of each to satisfy any one person with a North American appetite for dinner.  Start with a round of oyster shots ($3), packed with apple and horseradish ice (perhaps a bit too solidly to knock quickly back), a good dose of nostalgia for those that miss Angus An's Gastropod days.  From there, the Asian accents become much more pronounced, with particular emphasis on Japanese flavors.  


Of the cold plate highlights: the beef tataki ($13) is tweezer-dressed with gruy√®re and woodear for umami and contrast;  a plate of humpback shrimp ($12), served either sashimi or ceviche style (depending on who you ask), is a postcard perfect sample from the sea.  Comparatively, the wedge salad ($8), dressed with a fermented tofu dressing, nori and bonito flakes, is that much less inspired, and yet that much more cumbersome to share.



Of the hot plates: a bowl of rice ($20), speckled with foie gras cubes, roast chestnuts, daikon cubes and an unagi glaze, will get one more-than-comfortably through these gray rainy days.   The chicken wings ($12), lightly dusted in flour, are simple but tremendous.  The scallops ($17), atop a brushstroke of caper raisin sauce, comes with fried polenta blocks topped with housemade XO sauce, an admirable effort even if not entirely memorable (that foie gras rice bowl!).

Toast these with the assertive cocktail list, each also taking their Asian cues. The Mary Ellen Smith ($11), a brisk concoction of gin, carbonated sake, lime and cucumber juice, can wash most everything down, or skip right to the Junmai sake on tap, served like a glass of white wine, to wash down anything it can't.

That may, depending on your disposition, include what goes on outside.  Settle the bill, head back out the door, and the protesters - unless their nightly shift is over or until they acquiesce, whichever comes earlier - will still be there to bring the Pidgin politics back to mind, those politics that will outlast the restaurant itself, the park, and the area.  

Joe.

Pidgin
350 Carrall Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 620 9400

PiDGiN on Urbanspoon

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One night our friends from Japan took us out for Fugu (blowfish).   It was explained to us that the fugu served to us at this restaurant was a mountain version in which the swim bladder was not toxic.  I had no idea that there was such a thing and I was kinda sad that there wasn't a chance of dying but a great experience nonetheless. 

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One major reason to go to Japan is to see the super passionate people that master their craft.  Japan is home to masters in many of the elements.  The best dancehall queen and dancehall selectors, top fashion designer, chefs, pour over coffee masters, bartenders, rockabilly dancers, you name it, they got it.

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All my Japan trips involve numerous ramen meals.  When trying to establish a barometer there is no better place than the origin. Ramen is great as it is easily available, affordable and fast.   Based on some information from the Serious Eats blog our first stop was Ramen Street in Tokyo Street.  Our Process - look for the longest line, line up, look what everyone is ordering, pick that one, figure out how to order beer and wait to be seated.   Many ramen spots including this one patrons have to order via an electronic machine which all items are listed in Japanese characters.  Usually the first item is the most popular so going with that is a good choice.

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Japan is one of my favourite places.  Fantastic food, amazing craftsmanship, respectful people and a handful of weird things like cat cafes, maid cafes, and hotel rooms you can destroy (you pay per item you destroy).  Rather than list a restaurant that you may never get to or if you do this review will be totally out of date, I will do a comparison of the Japanese food on our trip to the Japanese food in Vancouver.