Vancouver-trained chef Makoto Ono opens PiDGiN restaurant

Canadian chef Makoto Ono’s highly anticipated PiDGiN (350 Carrall Street) opened this week in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The restaurant, which was originally planned for a 2012 opening, brings together Japanese, Korean, and French flavours, with a focus on seafood and shared plates.

Ono received his culinary training at the Art Institute of Vancouver’s Dubrelle Culinary School. He won the Canadian Culinary Championships in 2007, and helmed the kitchen at Winnipeg’s Gluttons Bistro, Beijing’s Makoto, and Hong Kong’s Liberty Private Works, before returning home to Winnipeg to guest chef at his father’s Edohei Japanese restaurant before it closed in February 2012.

Rounding out the team at PiDGiN is pastry chef Amanda Cheng, who was born and raised in Vancouver and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and bar manager Robyn Gray, who previously worked at Revel Room, Calabash Bistro, and the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.

PiDGiN is the first Vancouver restaurant to offer sake on tap from Granville Island’s Artisan Sake Maker. Menu items are priced between $6 and $26.

Comments (25) Add New Comment
Rating: +7
Mr. Resistor
How does the view of residential school survivors, rape survivors and abused mentally ill people make the food taste?
If people get pushed into the margins because of this place people will die, some will even be murdered and their blood will be on your hands.
Shame on you.
Rating: -20
Rich City
Another blatant bourgeois incursion into the Downtown Eastside, where you can sip your $15 cocktail and have Pigeon Park on full display. It should come as no surprise then that developers are partners in this gentrification enterprise. Get the yuppie restaurants in, make the neighbourhood feel 'safe', and then get those condos built. It's that easy!
Rating: -17
Scott, the Comfortable, Liberal, Westender
What the hell are your points ("murder"). The DTES is an abomination - BC and Canada's shame. Do you think these peoples' success, in and of itself, changes anything? Their presence in the DTES brings more attention to the area.

Accept the project on its merits. Perhaps some good will come of it. Get off your sanctimonious asses and work for your own goals, and allow these folks to work on there's.
Rating: +7
Same guy
Rating: +7
This is native land
This is what colonialism looks like. The rich kids are moving in to push out out. They want us to go back to hiding in alleys. They don't care what happens. If people die because of this, blood is on your hands.
Please have a heart. My people have suffered enough. Tear down this abomination and build some decent housing for people in need. Enough is enough.
Rating: -11
Save the Pigeons!
Rating: +3
Mr Resistor
@Scott wrote that DTES is an abomination.
Why? Because of First Nations? Because of victims of your country's genocides?
Are you not aware of the worst serial killing in Canadian history? One of the women was taken a few steps from this spot. Those women were from this neighborhood
Do you understand the history or do you choose to believe the poor and homeless chose their fate?

Smarten up. What happened was genocide. Pidgin better not be part of more of the same.

Smarten up and show some respect.
Rating: -10
Jack Ying
I believe that it is an eventuality that the Gastown and Chinatown areas will be redeveloped. We are running out of room downtown and projects such as Woodward's,not forgetting the marketing genius of Bob Rennie, have made it profitable and attractive for developers to consider that area. Think of this, I currently have 6 assignments in the 2 Woodward's buildings. The prices range from almost $700/sqft with a 10 year leased parking to over $1000/sqft. Developers see this kind of money in an area where they can buy properties to develop at a lower cost and they cannot resist. More and more developments will come up and guess what, the 'undesirable elements' will move away. Why? Not because they will be dragged away by cops but because they shun attention. They live in the shadows of society and when a big spotlight is pointed at them, they will move. And good riddance.
Rating: +6
Jeff Ke
No matter how much money, many of them are completely mentally ill and have no chance of recovery. It’s a losing investment. They'll never change, and so you're better off not helping the hopeless, I mean homeless.

Single occupancy hotel rooms is a positively-notated term for cheap dirty housing for druggies and near-homeless people and other losers surrounded by barrages of homeless people who cannot even afford that.

It’s like uncovering the ash-ridden lungs of a cancer patient – he may look perfectly fine on the skin and what not, but when you get to the depths of this, the hideous and low-class segments of the city are barren and wasted – adding a black spot to the elegance and the beauty of the city.

These buildings are being removed, because real estate development corporations want to rip them out, re-develop the sectors of the city and revive it into more beautiful neighbourhood that meets the standards of the rest of the city.

Essentially: We have to take away the last resort of living from the druggies and near-homeless people, re-zone it, and give more affordable living space to the rest of the citizens, and expand the horizons of the city – the good clean city, that is. And the real estate developers, who have rightfully earned the money through ambition and drive, why should they have to miss out on opportunities to increase their net worth from $2 billion to $4 billion? They deserve it fully. I don’t see why the rest of the good citizens, who are hard-working and goal-oriented, should run out of space downtown because there are these hideous, drug-ridden motels so close to our beautiful downtown. I don’t see why these people who clearly don’t deserve this, should be protected any more. They already get food stamps – that’s more than enough actually. The city, pressured by hippie activists, currently have a re-zoning penalty that is charged to developers.
Essentially: We take away the last resort of living from the druggies and near-homeless people, re-zone it, and give more affordable living space to the rest of the citizens, and expand the horizons of the city – the good clean city, that is. And I’m in full agreement with that.
Who cares what happens to them? Who cares about missing women? Who really cares about some dead hookers? What kind of life is that anyway? You can't save someone that far gone. They're like zombies.
Rating: -13
Lauren M
I feel like the name Pidgin and the grossly overpriced menu are a slap in the face to the residents of the neighborhood. This area is losing affordable social housing for people on welfare and it is also very quickly losing low price food option.

When we want to open a new treatment center or homeless shelter you hear the privileged class scream NOT IN MY BACKYARD. Well as someone who works a hop skip and a jump away from "Pidgin" in a treatment center for women at risk I say NOT IN OUR BACKYARD!
Rating: -15
Sherry Bo Berry
Why don't they just close and relocate? Oh I know, it's cuz that's only ever expected of the destitute.

But seriously folks, all kidding aside, it's gotta suck when someone 100 times richer than you moves next door and hires security to tell you to "move along" in your own hood.

Rating: -32
Locally trained chefs, local designer, small business folks now a target for protest from the start. Will they be happy when they are forced to close their doors and all these folks lose their jobs and Investment? What will happen with the location then? It's been empty for over three years, someone takes their chances and is now punished by misguided people with too much time on their hands. What about the three dollar donuts a block away? What about Wilderbeest with even higher prices? Why not the multimillion dollar company called London Drugs down the street? How the hell do you decide to start making your point with this little place now? I understand people need places to live. I understand that our government sucks at running this city. None of that is the fault of these folks trying to make a living by bringing some new energy to this boring stale city. Get your head out of the hole and fight a real fight with someone your own size.
Rating: +27
The rise of pricy restaurants in the area is threatening to displace and exclude poor and marginalized people.

The disparity is disturbing. This is the poorest urban neighborhood in Canada and the new businesses are catering only to wealthy people: $3 a donut, $6 a pickle, $50 a haircut? New business is fine and even some expensive ones but when every single new business is only for the affluent then it should come as no surprise people would protest it.
Pidgin, Wildebeast and Cartems are ostentatious and to many people, offensive. This trend if unchecked will lead to mass evictions, displacement and homelessness. There is genuine demand for services for lower income & blue collar people who still predominate. At least some of these new businesses should seek to include them in the business plan instead of plan on their being pushed out.
Rating: -20
Auguste Escoffier
We don't need this daintiness anywhere in the city. Are they telling me the hot dish of zucchini crab will still be hot when its thin dish arrives at my table?
The owner(s) had an interview on CBC radio Monday, and IMHO he had pretty trite, meager and oblivious responses.

While I can understand his attempt and connotation at 'merging' languages or locales (Pigeon/PiDGiN)...give me a break. HE tried to say that his clientele from Shaugnessy would appreciate the comofort in this part of town, since their prior avoidance of such?

Seems like a ruthless, unscrupulous and grudged effort; I feel sorry for the Chef. Let's see how the staff turnover goes based on mgmt style and performance. While there is "no such thing as bad press", there is also no such thing with pressing onto otherwise bad issues, rather than garnishing them for 'the foolish and the wise'.

75% of restaurants die in their 1st a junkie?
Rating: -8

Affluence is relative. I happen to like riding a bike, but if I were able to afford a Tesla I might prefer that. Who wouldn't? Meanwhile, our poorest people in Vancouver have access to health services, police protection and other constitutionally guaranteed rights that make their lives fundamentally safer than people from truly poor, undemocratic countries.

Now, what has this to do with ostentatious food? Just this: if the locals were not eating $3 pickles before the new restaurants came in, how can they be upset by not eating $3 pickles now?

@This is native land

You remind me of a guy who tried to pick a fight with me outside Campagnolo. He was also irritated that native land was being occupied by middle class foodies.

Emotionally, I get it. While I cannot claim to know what it is like to not know where my next meal is coming from, I have lived and worked with low income people and I respect and regret the genuine pain and fear that comes with gentrification.

The problem, unfortunately, is that industry pays for everything. The government has no money of its own. You cannot get a single public service without a tax base. You cannot blame an entrepeneur for opening a restaurant. Pidgeon Park equals cheap rent, which is the obvious incentive to open there. The motive was probably not to create a genocide.

In fact, why would you think the intent is to push anyone into alleys. Who would live in an alley when they could choose to go to, say, rehab and vocational training?
Rating: +26

In practice people often have their rights violated. Canada has shown systemic bias against poor people and against First Nations and the RCMP has been recently criticized by the UN for this.
As the Missing Women Report shows, systemic bias against addicts and marginalized groups was a contributing factor in their life situation and the failure of society to protect this group of women. The rights of poor and marginalized people are violated more often than middle class people and the obvious reason why is the weakest members of society don't often have the means or know-how to fight for their rights.

It was $3 donuts and $6 pickles.
In the poorest neighbourhood of Canada they are selling a box of a dozen donuts for almost $40.
Rating: +6

Yes, for sure there is always work to be done. Canada is only #4 on the Global Peace Index. It's not a perfect country by any means. On the other hand, it is #4 on the Global Peace Index.

I also agree that poor people may need help in asserting their rights, which is why I support Pivot and other groups to do stuff that frankly is way beyond me in terms of time and energy.

Where I disagree is in casting opposition to these yuppie eateries in terms of rights. I certainly understand the optics. When rich people have 99% of the city open to them, and the very poor and/or dysfunctionally addicted people have just the DTES, I am sure it is extremely galling to lose the DTES.

But what right is being violated? Rights include the right to education, to housing, to liberty and life. I can see where there is an argument that welfare is way too low. But I cannot see an argument that there is a right to keep the DTES the way it is. It is downtown, waterview property, and therefore 100% guaranteed to be the playground of the wealthy sooner or later.

I don't know if I like it or if I don't like it, but I am pretty sure that that is what happens with downtown waterview property in a rich country.

The question is not whether that is going to happen, but how we are going to deal with the resultant displacement in the best way.

Frankly I am of the view that if you are living in alleys because you won't go to rehab then you should be an involuntary ward of the BC Mental Health Act, but that's maybe a tad drastic. But this is where the real discussion lies, not does this Makoto character have the right sell trendy food in the DTES.
Rating: +13
teth adam
we need more restaurants like this in the DTES. more restaurants, jobs and taxpayers make for a richer, more dynamic city.

the protestors of this restaurant should be ashamed. why don't they go protest in front of neighborhood drug dealer instead? the experiment of allowing a drug infested cesspool of poverty and addiction to continue has done incalculable damage to residents in the area.

good for this restaurant. the DTES needs hope, not dope.
Rating: -2
People that oppose this restaurant are symptomatic of a major mental illness of society, where we punish the hard working and constructive, in order to reward the down out and criminal. It's sick. The protesters should be ashamed of themselves, they disgust me. Like it or not the downtown eastside is not going to be a festering cesspool of drugs, violence, and prostitution for ever. Young people with drive and ambition who aren't scared away from building business in the neighborhood are doing so, and eventually it's going to improve. Sorry to all the poverty industry leeches and government workers depending on continuing people's misery to pad your own pocket book. sorry to bleeding heart college girls from middle class backgrounds who think they are doing the right thing. The sick little experiment of the DTES is gradually ending. If the people are pushed out, it will be to their benefit as they are spread across the city instead of ghettoized in a hopeless place with no one around them but other hopeless zombies.
Rating: +12


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