(from the City of Vancouver archives)
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 gruyère 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.
350 Carrall Street
(604) 620 9400