PiDGiN Restaurant – Prix Fixe Menu – Gastown, Vancouver, BC

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 14Restaurant: PiDGiN
Cuisine: Euro-Asian/Pacific Northwest
Last visited: June 7, 2014
Location: Vancouver, BC (Gastown)
Address: 350 Carrall Street
Phone: (604) 620-9400
Price Range: $30-50 (Average $35-55+/person)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Executive Chef Makoto Ono
  • Euro-Asian cuisine (Asian-inspired)
  • No 5 on enRoute Magazine’s Top 10 Best New Restaurants 2013
  • Daily specials
  • Sophisticated dining
  • Good for sharing (2-4)
  • Late night menu
  • Cocktail/wine program
  • Sake menu
  • Chef’s table available
  • Daily price fixe menu
  • Mon-Sat 5pm – 12am
  • Sun 6pm – 12am
  • @PidginVancouver

**Recommendations: Oyster Shot, Grilled Octopus, Chicken Wings, Mushrooms with Egg, Half Duck, Whole Fried Fish (daily special). For cocktails try the “House-made Pimm’s Cup” and Gambler’s Fix.

Pidgin Restaurant InsidePhoto credit: PiDGiN

Don’t look at me! It’s embarrassing. It’s one of Vancouver’s most talked about restaurants in the last year and it’s taken me one and a half years to finally try PiDGiN, and I live in Vancouver, BC. Yes, I do, but I’m traveling fairly often and just haven’t had the opportunity to try it until recently. On the bright side trying it over a year later means the kinks (should be) worked out, the chef has more experience, and a better understanding of his clientele… and the protestors are gone. I might as well acknowledge them because we all know about them.

The restaurant opened in February 2013 across from Pigeon Park in a rather sketchy area of Downtown’s Lower East Side. It was targeted by anti-gentrification protestors which lasted a few months, but that seems to have died down or even disappeared. I walked straight in on a Saturday night without seeing any protestors, or getting hustled… well at least not for going into the restaurant, but that block is still a bit shady. Anyhow, let’s move on because they’ve moved on.

Before I start, I should mention I know the staff. I’ve met them at a handful of local events, judged them in a cocktail competition and a chicken wing competition (twice), and even hosted the stage for Executive Chef Makoto Ono at the Vancouver Home + Design Show Cooking Stage. I’ve had solid chats with their sous-chef Daniel McGee and basically we all know each other.

I wasn’t even sure if I was going to write on this experience and it was an impromptu dinner decision (I didn’t even bring my actual camera and had to use my phone). I went with a couple girlfriends on my own time and dime and besides a few complimentary bites, this meal was paid for. There are no expectations for the post and opinions are my own. Now that that’s out of the way, onto the restaurant and food.

PiDGiN is not an Asian restaurant, but it is certainly Asian inspired. The Asian influence is not as prominent as say Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, which is Chinese and not generally “Asian”, but about 70% of the PiDGiN menu has Asian flavours or ingredients. I made a good dent in their menu and my courses didn’t necessarily have a strong Asian presence, but the style, bowls, round tables, and chopsticks for dining were elements setting an Asian tone for dinner.

I was recommended the price fixe menu ($55/person), but the items were not listed, however I was happy with chef choosing all my courses. I should have looked more into the option though because there is a standard price fixe menu with set dishes. I assumed it would include some chef signatures, but I like trying all menus, so I ordered some from the a la carte to be fair and for comparisons sake. One of my girlfriends had dined here on a few occasions, so she was familiar with the a la carte menu which was helpful.

I usually gravitate towards chef tasting menus at fine dining restaurants, but tend to avoid price fixe menus at restaurants outside of that context. The name of the menus are arguably the same, but often called “chef’s tasting menu” at fine dining restaurants.

I find price fixe menus a bit safe and more on value than it is on the “best dishes” (I hate saying “best” anything). Or quite frankly, sometimes cheaper ingredients are substituted or portions are made smaller to fit the price fixe menu cost. However at fine dining restaurants the “chef’s tasting menu” often includes off-the-menu courses showcasing more culinary freedom from chef, or exclusive features for people willing to spend and/or try more.

But forget about the name of the menu because I don’t want the naming of the menu to classify a restaurant or expectations, but the price fixe menu at PiDGiN offered good perceived value.

PiDGiN is not a fine dining restaurant, so I didn’t assume a “chef’s tasting menu” style, but I thought there would be more play. All courses were available a la carte which is fine, but I had to do the math afterward (I’m Asian, let me do the math) to judge value.

The price fixe menu was $55/person and designed for 2, but can be for more although each person will be charged their additional share. If I ordered all the courses from the price fixe menu a la carte it would be $115 which means $57.50/person (divided by 2). So essentially you’re saving $2.50. It’s still a (small) deal and even ordering a la carte it’s still reasonable value, but you might want to just order a la carte and pick dishes you want. The perceived value was still great and I didn’t question anything in the moment, but next time I would order a la carte unless the price fixe menu had off-the-menu items or varied according to chef.

The prices are reasonable and expected for the caliber of restaurant. There are snacks, small plates and bigger plates, so it’ll add up, but you’ll be pretty full with perhaps leftovers from the price fixe. We were 3 girls, so we each did the price fixe menu and added courses on top. In total we had 5 additional courses and we rolled out of there with no leftovers. We’re another breed though.

I’ll repeat, this is not fine dining. It is sophisticated dining and more weekend dining than it is weekday, but not reserved for special occasions.

The plates are appropriately shared by 2-4, but the portions can be a bit small so I would recommend 2-3. It is better enjoyed ordering more dishes here and variety works in their favour, as well as there being stronger dishes than others.

The atmosphere is casual and I’d highly recommend reserving the chef’s table right in front of the kitchen. It seats four comfortably and there’s a mini lazy susan bridging the gap between the semi-open kitchen and chef’s table. It is my favourite seat at any restaurant, unless I’m dining solo, then it’s the bar. And speaking of the bar, don’t skip it. They have a well thought out cocktail program and a good selection of wine and sake.

The food was Euro-Asian or Pacific Northwest, more so than “farm-to-table” although the menus are seasonal and majority of ingredients local.

Blah! This “farm-to-table”, “seasonal”, and “local” vocabulary just comes off as buzzwords now, so I want to avoid them. Let’s just say the ingredients were good and move focus to the cooking and execution.

On the whole I enjoyed dinner here, but not all dishes were created equal and there could have been more attention to detail.

The seasoning was a bit inconsistent, although most of the time not shy with salt. I have a high tolerance for salt, but even I noticed it a touch heavy handed on a couple dishes. However on some dishes not all the components were as well seasoned, so seasoning was hit and miss.

Sometimes the plates for hot food weren’t warmed or the purees were served cold and it took away from the potential of the dish. I’m not sure if there was too long of a break between plating all the components, or if plates were being warmed under the heat lamp versus oven, but it’s a small kitchen and team, so it was unexpected. Also, I was sitting right beside the kitchen at chef’s table, so there was no waiting under a heat lamp.

They nailed textures in the savoury courses and I liked the hard, soft, chewy, crispy and crunchy contrast in many dishes, although the ratio of components on the plate were often miscalculated.

The style of dining is share plates, which does not mean family style, so they’re not huge and dishes are meant to be shared. However when courses are split or shared there needs to be consideration that everyone has enough of each component for it to be still enjoyed. I was dining with only 2 others, and some dishes came together better when it was eaten as a whole rather than split up. Other times I would have appreciated more attention to the amount of sauce and puree because it affects balance of flavours.

The execution of the meats were spot on though, and they really know how to work the deep-fryer and sous-vide. I say that in a positive light because you’d be surprised how many times deep fried food is too greasy or things come out soggy or not crisp or crunchy.

Sous-vide cooking can be easy, but you still have to know what you’re doing and know how to finish off the meat after being sous vide. There is a scientific process to it and some sous-vide better than others. They got it all here though and my meats were tender, moist, and how I prefer.

I don’t want to sound overly critical (although I’m me) because most courses were very good and I have faith in the team. It just lacked the minor, but noticeable details and finesse of a polished dish and I’m not comparing it to fine dining. I still liked the concept and some dishes I can’t wait to go back for, but fine tuning and extra care in execution and plating would make a big difference.

On the table:

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 02**Gambler’s Fix (on the left) – 5/6 (Excellent)

  • Gin, muddled lemon, pineapple caramel rhubarb & booker’s bitters, aperol float $13
  • A bit of a pricey cocktail and I forgot to ask what kind of gin, but it’s pretty standard Vancouver cocktail prices these days.
  • This was easy drinking, good to start, and well balanced with sweet and tart.
  • I wouldn’t mind a bit less ice, but I’d still order this again… although it is extremely challenging to move away from the wicked Pimm’s Cup.

**House-made Pimm’s Cup” (on the right) – 6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • House created pimm’s recipe lemon, orange, mint, cucumber, strawberry $14
  • Omfg. It was my drink of choice in London (not surprising). It is their drink of choice after tea too.
  • I heard from Vancouverites it was “the best Pimm’s Cup” in the city and as much as I hate the word “best”, I haven’t tried enough to say and I’d be confident using this as a benchmark.
  • It went down too easily and it was like a Pimm’s Cup meets fruit punch meets Sangria (but no wine).
  • It was an excellent twist, but also very English to add the mint, citrus and strawberries.
  • Traditionally it is just lemonade with a lemon twist or slice of cucumber as garnish, but here it was a party.
  • It is a perfect summer cocktail made with muddled fruits and it was refreshing and again well balanced with sweet and citrus.
  • $14 is pricey, but I didn’t even think about it because I enjoyed it so much. Order it. I don’t know if it’ll get any better in the city.
  • I also liked how he served them in a traditional collins glass. Classic style, but modern interpretation.
  • Their bartender Justin Darnes used to be the barman at Savoy American, one of London’s top bars, so he knows how to make a mind-blowing Pimm’s Cup.

Pidgin Oyster Shot 3**Oyster shot – 5/6 (Excellent)

  • Apple, horseradish $3
  • I could have had a few of these and it was a great way to start the food marathon.
  • Many Japanese restaurants start their omakase menus with this, but usually their oyster shots have quail’s egg, mountain yam, or if you’re lucky, uni.
  • It was a Japanese inspired oyster shot and I would have loved it with wasabi instead of horseradish, but close enough.
  • It had a milkiness like leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk (leftover marinade from ceviche), but it was not heavy.
  • The acid from the apple kept the flavours bright and light.
  • It was refreshing and clean and the apple was apple granita so it was almost like a savoury and spicy slushy.
  • The granita gave it some texture so it wasn’t just slimy either.
  • I don’t mind sliminess (Japanese versions are very slimy), but it is not a texture for most Western palates.
  • I’m a purist with oysters. If they’re fresh and high quality I prefer them raw and naked, but in a shot context I can appreciate them dressed.
  • This had just enough condiments without masking the natural flavour of the briny oyster.
  • The hit of horseradish came after, but it wasn’t overpowering or very strong. It just woke you up.
  • It went down easily and smoothly and there was a good balance of flavours.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 07Daily Pickles 2/6 (Okay)

  • $5
  • They were Korean style pickles also known as kimchi.
  • One of the staff’s Korean mother-in-law taught chef her recipe, but he made it his own and this was a west coast style kimchi.
  • It is not a Korean restaurant so I didn’t expect authentic kimchi which is fine because they didn’t call it “kimchi” either.
  • The veggies were Italian eggplant, cabbage, and bok choy stems, and it was marinated with szechuan peppercorns and other spices.
  • They didn’t taste particularly Korean or like standard kimchi, but in Korea there are hundreds of different kimchi.
  • The brine was really sour and the acidity quite high to the point of gleeking.
  • I prefer Japanese eggplant to Italian eggplant, but the eggplant was still a bit raw and hard.
  • The cabbage had good texture and it was crunchy, but not raw.
  • It was a great way to use up leftover ingredients and it’s a good sign of a chef who doesn’t waste.
  • It isn’t something I’d re-order, but my friend said their pickles have been better.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 08Raw Scallops 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • Pomegranate red curry oil, daikon, green apple $15
  • This was very Asian inspired and it came across in flavours too.
  • The scallops were quite small and at first I thought it was one jumbo one cut into 3 and extended across the plate, but now I think they were just smaller scallops.
  • With such small scallops I would prefer a finer julienne with the apples and daikon, so shredded might be better because it was still good for texture.
  • It was sweet at first and the green apples gave some sweetness and acidity, but the heat came after.
  • There was some garlic flavour, mild curry flavour and mild heat from the red curry oil, but it wasn’t spicy.
  • There were some pine nut crumbs sprinkled on top, but not enough to get any flavour or provide any texture.
  • It looked nice, but it was one of the dishes where I wanted more attention to detail and ratio of components.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 09**Grilled Octopus4/6 (Very good)

  • Romesco, fennel biscotti $13
  • This was very good, but I couldn’t help but to compare it to other octopus dishes and I just had an epic one from Honey Salt in Las Vegas.
  • I also love the one at L’Abattoir and Bambudda has a similar one to L’Abattoir.
  • This had a great play with textures and it was original. I’ve never had these components or flavour combinations together so it was interesting.
  • Octopus and romesco go hand in hand, but the fennel biscotti was different.
  • Romesco sauce is a Catalonian, garlicky, roasted red pepper and nut sauce often used as a condiment for seafood in Spain, but can be enjoyed with meat and vegetables.
  • It is supposed to be a rich, sweet and nutty flavourful sauce, but this one was under seasoned.
  • It goes nicely with charred smoky seafood and this octopus was charred.
  • The octopus was sous-vide first and then charred, so it was tender and perfectly cooked without being chewy.
  • I was hoping I could get more salt from the crispy fried capers, but they weren’t salty enough to compensated for the blander romesco.
  • I loved the sweet and crunchy biscotti infused with fennel and it added a subtle hint of liquorice flavour.
  • The biscotti could have been a bit smaller as to not compete with the octopus, and there wasn’t enough romesco to “glue” the two together. Again, it was the small details.
  • It was a random way to bring texture to the plate, but I loved the sweet and savoury and he made it work.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 11**Fried Chicken Wings5/6 (Excellent)

  • $12
  • I couldn’t leave without trying the signature PiDGiN wings everyone raves about. I was aware of the hype and it lived up to it.
  • When people think “fried chicken wings in Vancouver, Phnom Penh‘s always comes to mind first, but these will come up in my top 5.
  • They were juicy, tender, falling off the bone; which some could say is “overcooked”, but as long as the meat is not dry and membranes are not tough, I’m fine with “fall off the bone”.
  • The batter was crisp, light and almost powdery. It was very lightly dusted or coated and there was no breading.
  • I think it was cornstarch instead of flour which usually helps the crust adhere to the chicken, but in this case the batter was so light there wasn’t much of a crust.
  • I like using potato starch for more crunch, but I think they were aiming for crisp here.
  • The sauce was Korean-inspired and made with Gochujang (fermented soybean chili paste), which I love.
  • The pungent, sweet, savoury and spicy sauce was thinned out and drizzled over the chicken wings.
  • It was probably thinned out with soy sauce, cooking wine and sugar for added sweetness otherwise Gochujang can be a bit bitter and aggressive.
  • The sauce was a highlight, but I wish it was more evenly drizzled because the ones underneath the pile were naked.
  • I actually prefer the wings tossed in the sauce covering it completely, which is how Koreans would do it traditionally.
  • If done properly, batter is right and eaten immediately, the saucy wings won’t be/get soggy.
  • The ribbons of pickled carrots and daikon were a nice balance to the fried wings and spicy sauce.
  • Fried chicken wings are beloved in Korea. I wouldn’t compare this to those, but these were solid wings I’d reorder.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 13**Mushrooms 4/6 (Very good)

  • Snap peas, egg, soy yuzu brown butter $12
  • Mushrooms, eggs, and brown butter… how can you go wrong?
  • I love mushrooms and eggs and it’s nostalgic because mushroom omelettes on toast made by dad was my favourite breakfast growing up.
  • The egg was pretty darn perfect. It was a sous-vide, or maybe even just boiled, soy sauce egg and it had a creamy, rich gel-like viscous yolk.
  • The technique is Japanese (same egg served in ramen) and Taiwanese/Chinese (see my favourite Sweet Crystal Eggs at Delicious Cuisine).
  • Traditionally, it’s boiled in a soy sauce broth sweetened with sugar, spiced with Star Anise, and infused with tea.
  • It can get labour intensive and requires boiling, cold shocking, and refrigerating to get the yolk to that consistency. 
  • The egg is intentionally served cold (traditionally it is as well) and the difference was this one wasn’t sweet.
  • The sautéed mushrooms were simply sautéed in soy yuzu brown butter and there were no surprises here. I could taste each sauce without even knowing.
  • I could taste the umami of the brown butter and soy sauce and a touch of acidity from the citrus yuzu sauce.
  • The mushrooms were a bit salty, but cooked perfectly; soft and tender with a slight crunch and bite.
  • I would have loved some crispy garlic or shallots for textural contrast, but I still enjoyed this.
  • The only thing I wasn’t loving was the snap pea puree which was also served cold.
  • It was intentional, but I think the puree would have been better hot.
  • The plate was also cold, which could be on purpose, but guessing isn’t ideal.
  • The puree wasn’t smooth and it just needed a good high speed whip in the Vitamix.
  • The flavour of the puree was also a bit woody and I could taste the pea shoots or scraps more so than sweet peas.
  • It’s a good sign of not wasting, but it needed more sweet pea flavour even if it meant adding frozen peas to it.
  • The puree had a grainy/starchy texture and I think the peas used to make it were undercooked.
  • Maybe they wanted to preserve the colour, but the snap peas still needed to be blanched longer, and even if it was, the colour would be fine.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 10Pan Roasted Halibut3/6 (Good)

  • Cauliflower puree, pine nut raisin agrodolce $28
  • I loved the sound of this, but wasn’t keen on the execution and found it under seasoned.
  • The halibut was excellent, moist and flaky, but quite bland.
  • I fear ordering halibut because majority of the time it’s overcooked and tastes like chicken, but this was done right.
  • I like crispy halibut skin, so I missed that part, but I understand most prefer skinless fish.
  • Halibut can be a blank slate so it needs seasoning and flavour, but this one was very lightly seasoned and salted.
  • The cauliflower puree was cold and I would have liked more butter and salt because the rich savoury flavour wasn’t there yet.
  • The pine nut raisin agrodolce (an Italian sweet and sour sauce made from sugar and vinegar) had good texture, but the cauliflower florets in it were soggy instead of crispy. I’m not sure if that was intentional.
  • It was sweet, savoury and nutty and I liked all the little bits, but the dish didn’t quite come together and the components felt separate.
  • I’ve had the cauliflower, pine nut and raisin combination before served with scallops (see here), and I think this had potential, but it just needs some rethinking/tweaking before I’d consider ordering it again.
  • It was good, but forgettable and as a main a bit small.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 14**Half Duck 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Carrot cake, oranges, spices $31
  • It was a nice Modern American take on a classic duck confit and Canard à l’Orange.
  • It’s one of their signatures and it’s been on the menu for a while. I doubt it’ll come off which isn’t a bad thing.
  • It was creative, it showcased a variety of well executed cooking techniques and it was comforting.
  • The duck was Brome Lake duck from Quebec which I like.
  • They haven’t found a local duck farmer with better tasting duck, so they use Brome Lake.
  • The duck was cooked perfectly to about a medium/medium-well.
  • Brome Lake ducks can usually cook to medium-well and they’re still tender.
  • It was likely sous vide and the duck breast was brined, tender, juicy, well seasoned, and buttery soft. Excellent.
  • The fat between the breast and skin was well rendered and soft, which is how I prefer.
  • The leg (my usual preference) was confit, and served shredded underneath the slices of duck breast.
  • It was rich, moist and a bit crispy from being fried in duck fat.
  • Each serving was topped with a flattened and dehydrated duck crackling (skin) which I wanted a big bowl of.
  • To adhere the crackling to the duck breast they used orange marmalade, but it was too sweet.
  • I liked the idea, but the sweetness overpowered the savoury duck and there was quite a bit, so a little glaze of marmalade would have went a long way.
  • There was also already another sweet component underneath.
  • The carrot cake puree was sweet as well, so overall it was a bit too sweet and unbalanced.
  • It looked like raw carrot cake batter, but didn’t taste like it. It was sweet and savoury, but more sweet than savoury.
  • I loved the idea of the puree, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
  • The cloves, cinnamon and warm spices in the puree reminded me of Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie and I saw where he was going with the flavour combination.
  • The cinnamon flavour also played into flavours of Chinese 5-spice powder which is often used on Chinese roast duck or any meats.
  • Carrot cake croutons would have been nice and this plate still had more to go, but even as is, I’d still recommend it.
  • It was properly prepared with great flavour.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 16**Whole Fried Rock Fish (Daily special) – 5.5/6 (Excellent!)

  • Served with grilled green onions and a side of sweet fish sauce and daikon ginger radish pickles. $46
  • I want this again! I’d come back for this alone.
  • I loved seeing this at a non-Asian restaurant.
  • It was a massive fish! I knew I wanted it as soon as I saw it on someone’s table and put the order in as soon as I walked in the restaurant.
  • Just the idea of a whole fish being served gets me excited and I almost only ever get it at an Asian restaurant… sometimes Mediterranean.
  • It was reminiscent of Pla Tub Tim Rad Prik (Thai fried fish with chili sauce), Pla Sam Rot (Thai fried fish with 3 flavoured sauce) and Mandarin-style sweet and sour deep fried whole fish.
  • You can find all these dishes at selective Thai and Shanghainese restaurants in Metro Vancouver, but they’re not popular dishes and often get overlooked.
  • This was Asian inspired and flavoured, but more so when you used the side of fish sauce.
  • I cringed seeing plates of it go back with the fins and head untouched. The best parts left for the garbage. A foodie’s tragedy.
  • I demolished this… well with the help of 2 girls, but I ate most of it including the bones. They did too. It was only the big and thick bones I couldn’t chew threw.
  • It was so well fried, not greasy, crispy and crunchy and everything was right. Not one piece was soggy even as it cooled.
  • The batter was light, airy, flaky and similar to fish n’ chip batter.
  • The fish meat was moist and juicy and the only thing was it was too salty, and two of the three of us have a really high tolerance for salt.
  • Since it was too salty we rarely used the fish sauce (also very salty), which was part of the enjoyment of the overall dish.
  • There was pretty much nothing left when we were done with this.
  • At this point I was pretty full… but I couldn’t miss the foie.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 21Foie Gras Rice Bowl3/6 (Good)

  • Chestnuts, daikon, unagi glaze $20
  • You gotta feel spoiled when you’re having fried rice with foie gras.
  • It was good because it was foie gras, but if you took that away than it would just be a bowl of plain white rice with said ingredients. 
  • It wasn’t necessarily inspired, but it was gourmet comfort food with a twist (for Asian kids).
  • Nostalgic rice bowls would be fried Spam, fried egg and Maggi sauce for many Asian kids, so this was a bit reminiscent and I didn’t even have it much growing up.
  • Foie is a definite upgrade from Spam, but I missed the fried egg and this would have been better with one.
  • It was about 80g of Rougié foie gras (good quality Canadian foie) cubed and pan seared with a crisp exterior, which is how I like. 
  • It was mixed with sous vide (?) soy sauce infused chilled daikon.
  • The daikon was juicy, soft and delicious and cut the same size as the foie.
  • At times it was hard to tell what I was getting because the foie and daikon were the same colour.
  • I loved the pieces of sweet chestnuts and the sweet unagi sauce was complementing.
  • There was also some freshly grated local wasabi on the side. It was mild and not very hot.
  • Fresh wasabi tends to be milder than the fake stuff and it was a nice way to cut through the rich fatty foie.
  • There was a lot of plain white rice so I would have loved for some to be fried crispy, or for it to be fried rice instead.
  • Foie is beautiful alone and I enjoy it simply pan seared, although I can still appreciate creative versions like Foie Gras BrûléePuffed Quebec Foie Gras, Halva Foie GrasFoie Gras Ice Cream SandwichFoie Gras MarshmallowsFoie Gras Parfait, Foie Gras Cotton Candy etc.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 22Meringue, Passionfruit Curd – 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • Almonds, white chocolate, lime $8
  • This was my favourite dessert here and I appreciate the fact they invest in a pastry chef to do the dessert menu.
  • She isn’t there full time, so it explains why there was no a la minute desserts and everything was pretty much done. It just needed to be plated, which is fine and quite typical for dessert.
  • The meringue was marshmallow-like with a soft centre and not too sweet or sugary. I hate when it’s grainy and the sugar isn’t melted properly.
  • It was airy light and not deflated, but I wished it was crispy on the exterior.
  • The texture came from the crunchy toasted sliced almond praline.
  • The passionfruit curd was nice and tart, but also a bit grainy.
  • There wasn’t enough white chocolate ganache on the plate or lime zest, so I could have used more of both.
  • I was looking for coconut flavours or a coconut sorbet to give it a refreshing component.
  • Coconut just seemed so obvious to include and I wanted one more component because it seemed unfinished.
  • If you like this, I recommend the Coconut & Passionfruit Cream Puff from Beta-5 Chocolates.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 23Caramelized Banana Napoleon2/6 (Okay)

  • Dulce de leche, coffee jelly $8
  • I wasn’t too keen on the plating of the banana… and I wasn’t loving how it was just a plain raw banana.
  • It would have been great warm, grilled, bruleed or caramelized.
  • The Banana Napoleon itself was delicious though and it was saving grace to the dessert.
  • The phyllo pastry sheets weren’t flakey and layered, but just thin and crisp.
  • I love flakier and more layers, but this was still good.
  • The caramelized banana cream in-between was also very good, not too sweet, light, cinnamon (?) spiced and creamy.
  • The dulce de leche was good, but just a standard good caramelized condensed milk recipe… I’m pretty sure (which is fine).
  • The coffee jelly I found very random and it didn’t go with the other components.
  • It’s quite popular on its own with evaporated milk in parts of Asia, but I would have preferred the coffee flavour brought in another way.
  • A Thai-tea custard, Vietnamese coffee crumble, or even better a Thai-tea ice cream on a Vietnamese coffee crumble on the side would have been awesome!
  • It was another dessert which seemed unfinished or short a component(s).

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 24Matcha and Chocolate Opera Cake3/6 (Good)

  • Kirsch cherries $8
  • My favourite matcha and chocolate Opera cake in Vancouver is from Minami, also served at their sister restaurant Miku.
  • An Opera cake is a traditional French cake made from alternating layers of coffee soaked almond sponge cake, coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache.
  • This Japanese-inspired version was good, but knowing there is a better one in the city, it was hard to appreciate.
  • It was made well and it was a generous slice, but it got a bit repetitive and I wasn’t crazy for it.
  • For what it was, it was good and each layer was even and well executed, but it could have been even better.
  • For an Opera cake, the layers were actually quite thick and it became a richer and denser cake.
  • The matcha flavour was strong, the chocolate ganache a bit grainy, but the chocolate and matcha flavour were well balanced.
  • It just didn’t have much going for it.
  • I would have loved some texture and a crispy feuilletine layer like the one at Minami or even Xi Shi Lounge.
  • Feuilletine is expensive, but thinner layers and a smaller slice with the feuilletine layer at the same price would have been fabulous.

Pidgin Restaurant Vancouver 25I got the last bit of this special dessert sake, show them the picture and order it. Liquid (amber) gold.

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