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No. 5 - Pidgin
No 5


Above: The foie gras rice bowl, dotted with cubes of soy-braised daikon radish and chestnuts and topped with scallions and a sweet unagi-style glaze.

350 Carrall St., Vancouver

That seductive rice bowl speaks a coherent mix of French and Japanese.”

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Chef Makoto ono is trying to steal my wife from me. His charm offensive? A deceptively simple rice bowl, topped with cubes of foie gras, soy-braised daikon and chestnuts, the pile of goodies all lathered up with a sweet unagi glaze. “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten,” she says, fighting me off with her chopsticks. I fear I’m about to play Billy Crystal in the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene.

Pidgin tends to elicit intense responses, whether from the anti-gentrification protestors outside or the fashionable crowd inside this minimalist Downtown Eastside room, designed by Craig Stanghetta. The cuisine of Winnipeg-born chef Ono, who ran restaurants in Beijing and Hong Kong, draws from multiple languages; that seductive rice bowl speaks a coherent mix of French and Japanese.

Chefs Amanda Cheng and Makoto Ono of Pidgin

Pidgin’s pastry chef Amanda Cheng and chef Makoto Ono, birds of a feather in their whites.

But not every dish collects passport stamps: fried chicken wings, drizzled with Korean fermented chili gochujang, are strongly East; spears of crisp chard and broccolini are ideal vehicles for a fundamentally Euro hollandaise. Proper cocktails (tequila + falernum + chili water = the Savage Butcher) are backed by local sake on tap, served in carafes made from sawed-off glass bottles of 7UP.

By the time pastry chef Amanda Cheng’s superlative yuzu curd with meringue and chopped celery arrives, we ought to be emotionally spent. But Pidgin doesn’t wear you down; it lifts you up. Two girls in their going-out best (sequins, pearls) glide up to the bar, slurp down a glass of champagne and an oyster shot, spiked with horseradish and frozen shards of apple, and set out into the night. Clearly, we’re all speaking the same language here.


  • Patricia November 6, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Looks like a great restaurant —
    but the author doesn’t disclose what CITY it’s located in…

    Cheers !!

  • Jasmin Legatos November 6, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Hi Patricia – The address is either in the sidebar (if you’re on a desktop) on at the top of the write-up (if you’re on a mobile). We’ve also recently added the city names with a little placemarker for added clarity. Thanks for reading! Jasmin, online editor, enRoute

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