Special to The Post
I first tasted Chef Makoto Ono's food back in 2006 in Toronto at the Gold Medal Plates competition where beat celebrity chef Mark McEwan in his hometown. I heard that he moved to China next and was surprised to see him resurface in Vancouver.
At Pidgin, they have a simple drinks and dinner menu and a clean chopstick & napkin combo. Bowls are provided since most of their dishes are meant for sharing.
First, I ordered the de capo negroni, a potent blend of gin, vermouth, campari, and a large ice ball made with cold press coffee. It was interesting. For a starter, we tried their simple Korean Gochujang Fried Chicken Wings. People raved about this dish, and they were good with a great crunch, and juicy and tender on the inside. I recall reading that the wings are brined overnight, so that could be the reason why they seem juicier than your average "hot wings." I appreciated the fact that they were not drenched in sauce too. The vegetable garnish was not necessary.
For our second starter, we tried the Shrimp Toast. Served with a slaw of daikon on homemade brioche, this was a tasty bite, but note that it is nothing like the Shrimp Toast you normally get a dimsum restaurants.
Next, we ordered the Ling Cod with lentils. The fish was gently smoked and pan-roasted and cooked medium. The resulting dish had a sweet smokey fish that flaked off easily. The lentils were a good side for the ling cod, with the two textures complementing each other. The clams added a playful touch to the dish, as did the sauce, a bacon dashi veloute.
I had reviewed the menu prior to coming and was delighted to see that they had Squab on the menu, a nice nod the name of the restaurant. Served with pickled veggies and some fresh herbs, I found the dish a little sparse. However, the flavour of the squab was very good and had almost a rustic feel to it.
After finishing the cocktails, I ordered a half litre of wine to finish off with the meal. I was smitten with the cut pop bottle presentation.
350 Carrall Street, Vancouver
• Some appies are better deals than the mains (ie. wings versus squab)
• Prix fixe menu pricing has risen from $40 to $55/person
• Shishito peppers are highly recommended as a starter