Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Pidgin - Vancouver's New Culinary Delight

March 27, 2013

As hungry business travelers are wont to do, my colleagues and I found ourselves searching for an exciting restaurant to try whilst in Vancouver last week. One of my colleagues had heard of this new place in the "sketchy" part of town because of an article read in the Globe and Mail about anarchists protesting against the gentrification of the lower east side.

** As a side note, I will mention that I personally do not see the link between a small business owner who employs homeless people and those suffering from addiction and gentrification... But hey, if you gotta bang your drum, I guess you'll look for anything **

Pidgin is nestled one corner away from a very humbling and downtrodden portion of the lower east side in Vancouver, now complete with frosted windows to create a barrier between its diners and those nosy anarchists.

We didn't have a reservation, of course, and were quite chuffed as the host slash owner/manager confirmed this was no problem and seated us. The one-page menu that seems to change weekly was distributed and we were informed that Pidgin is korean-inspired tapas style. The menu ranges from $4 nibblies to $29 substantial sharing dishes.

We decided to get as many dishes as we could muster and give Pidgin - and ourselves - a true test. I say this because while there are innocuous dishes like chili peanuts and calamari, we opted for oserais-je dire (shall I say) daring choices. "One in six of the Shishito peppers are spicy" says our server with a little smile. Dauntingly, then, we make our way through the parmesan and pine nut topped sand mines. Don't worry - no one was injured while eating them :)

What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten? Well for me, I must transfer the trophy to the next dish we had: sea urchin accompanied by an uber rich cauliflower mousse and jalapeno salsa. This was a little too heavy for my tastes, but no one can deny the flavour explosion.

There were some interesting dishes like the steak korean-style wraps (with lettuce leaves and home made pickles) or the humpback shrimp and celery (which I think were raw). But the winner was definitely the half duck. A leg confit'd (confeed) to perfection and a succulent magret was hard enough to resist - now add a homemade marmalade, confit carrots, and a carrot cake puree. Yes - a carrot cake puree! Insane melange of texture, sweet and tangy.

I should also mention the rare selection of sake. I am by no means a connoisseur, so we opted for the locally (Richmond) distilled  version on tap. Much to our delightful surprise, it was the best any of us had ever had. Wish I could get my hands on that producer....

If you're in the mood for something different and maybe a little rebellious (given the scandal), I definitely recommend this place! The food, the drink and the staff will all impress you.

Rating - Refreshingly delightful

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