Head down Carrall Street between Hastings and Cordova, and you’ll see earnest young businesses weaving energy and change to a storied stretch of the Downtown Eastside. There is East Van Roasters – who make the best Bean To Bar chocolate in the city, Nelson the Seagull – whose bread I adore, and the newly opened Joe Pizza – bringing well made slab pizza to the neighbourhood.
At the heart of it all is PiDGin, which opened back in 2013 to all sorts of fanfare and discussion. At the time, I said that along with great cooking and vision – the restaurant brought engagement to a part of town that too many people simply ignored.
Recent revisits have made me kind of fall in love with the place again – the room glows with honeyed hues, the gentle buzz of contented diners, and the purposeful hustle of the staff.
Newly appointed Executive Chef Wesley Young continues to evolve PiDGin’s menu forward, a smart marriage of Asian flavors and modern techniques.
Gojuchang jolted Bolognese warmly dresses Korean rice cakes – pure comfort in any language.
Chinese BBQ scented roasted quail is served bone in to maximize succulence with sprouted lentils to sop up the glorious juices.
A delicate salad of squash, cauliflower, and greens shows a deft touch and lightness of hand.
The foie gras rice – a dish that been on the menu since day one, has gotten a bit of an update. The foie is now served in one piece, raising the lux factor significantly.
PiDGin’s bright edges have softened somewhat – the room and food feel at ease with themselves. There is nothing left to prove, with a quiet confidence reflected in the sharply executed cooking. PiDGin has made a home for itself and settled remarkably well into its neighbourhood.
And that, for any Vancouver restaurant, is no mean feat.