I think of all the Dine Outs I booked this year, I was probably the most excited for Pidgin. I've read a lot about this gem ever since it opened up last year in Gastown. Headed by star chef Makoto Ono, I had high expectations for this Asian/European fusion restaurant. Unlike most Dine Out restaurants, Pidgin offers a six course menu with two separate menus (regular and vegetarian). I usually don't order vegetarian options since I like my meat/seafood too much but my friend and I decided to order one of each menu so we could get the best out of what they had to offer.
Our appetizers started with Smoked Almonds and a daily selection of pickles. If they sold those almonds in store, I would buy them by the pound-they were just so good. My friend and I couldn't bear to finish them all in one go since we wanted to save some for later.
We then had the Bitter Green Salad with citrus, raisins, and capers as well as the Shishito Peppers. The salad offered a lot of interesting flavours as well as textures. The bitterness was balanced out by the subtle citrus and sweetness from the raisins. Usually I'm pretty tolerant against spices but the shishito peppers were definitely a bit too spicy for me that day. Regretfully, I couldn't eat more than one :(
Our entrees started with the Sake Steams Clams in xo sauce with kale and fregola. The clams tasted fresh and the broth was amazing-the sake wasn't too strong bit the mix with kale and xo sauce really added a punch of flavour. I felt like the fregola added a cute little touch to it all but also added to the chewiness of the clams.
We also had the Beef Striploin with black beans and black garlic jus. I can't say this was terribly good since I'm not a bean fan...and especially not a black bean fan. The beef was not bad; cooked medium rare and juicy. But both my friend and I were skeptical about the black bean mix underneath the meat. It was coarse, bitter...and uhg. We just left out all the beans in the end.
The vegetarian entrees started of with a unique "Dan Dan" Rutabaga Noodle Salad with tofu and almonds. I surprisingly liked this dish as the strips of rutabaga "noodles" were crisp and a tad bit sour- very refreshing when mixed together with the sauce and other ingredients in the bowl. Crisp & Crunchy; everything from the noodles to the peanut sauce to the almonds scored high on the crunchiness scale.
I love love love mushrooms so the mix of Mushrooms, Snap Peas, Egg and Soy Yuzu Brown Butter was perfect for me. Everything about this dish was fresh and light. The egg was a perfect ramen style soft boiled egg which added slight a punch of flavour to it all. Out of all the dishes in this meal, I finished this one the quickest :$
Our last entree was the Parisienne Gnocchi with radishes, radish green pistou, and buttermilk ricotta. This was the "heavy" dish out of the vegetarian entrees since each piece of gnocchi was very starchy and the buttermilk ricotta added to the richness of it all. I don't really have too much to say about it since it didn't stand out that much for me.
Both menus ended with the same dessert- Black Sesame Meringue with kalamansi curd, coconut, lime, and white chocolate. This was definitely a first for me since 1) I've never had a sesame meringue before and 2) I've never tasted the combination of coconut and lime with something as sweet as white chocolate. This dessert was a great way to end off the meal. It was light, tangy, citrus-ey and just enough sweet to satisfy me till the end.
Oh and before I forget..Pidgin is quite well known for their well established bar. I love my plum sake so I ordered the Sakehitosuji "plum sake" Junbaishi, which is a sweeter version of umeshu. It had a rich colour and equally distinct "plum sake" taste. I'll definitely be on the hunt for more in the future. My friend decided to order the One Eyed Samurai- watermelon infused tequila, sake, lemon, watermelon granite. The drink comes with the watermelon granite separate, so make sure to mix it in good! I give this one a 10/10. It was fruity and refreshing (like watermelon should be) but with just enough liquor to let you know that this is one hell of a classy drink you're sipping. I recommend this drink to anyone who wants to try something new and is too indecisive of what to choose on Pidgin's vast liquor menu.
So in the end, was I satisfied? Yes! I love how each dish had its own distinct set of textures and mix of flavours. But what I loved even more, was how I still felt that all the dishes were able to relate to the meal as a whole. Everything in this meal was new to me and I definitely enjoyed the variety that Pidgin's Dine Out menus had to offer. The food quality was on par with what I had expected (it's just the black beans that irked me a bit).
I think I'd like to come back another time and try out a few other drinks and tasting sets :)
Well..until next time!