PinPin Restaurant is a bustling Filipino joint located on the corner of Fraser Street and 45th Avenue in Vancouver. I’ve wanted to get to know Filipino food for a long time, and who better to give me a crash course than a good Filipino friend? Pregnant with her first child, JP was eating for two. This was a good excuse to order pretty much anything that tickled our fancy.
We arrived to see that the restaurant was hopping! JP explained that on Sundays there is usually a lineup out the door with families wanting to enjoy a good meal after church, but we went on a Saturday and were lucky enough to be seated at the last free table.
To start, we shared the Shrimp Balls. Deep fried to a golden perfection, the crispy coating was a great outer layer holding tons of chopped shrimp. This was served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
Next came the dish I was most excited to try – Crispy Pata. Pata is a Spanish word for ‘pork feet.’ This was delicious – Crispy, flavorful skin with succulent meat on the inside. It was served with soy sauce, and JP asked our server for a side of vinegar. I was curious as to the reasoning, but understood when the vinegar cut the crispy skin perfectly. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. JP explained that PinPin is not necessarily known for making the best Crispy Pata, so I can’t wait to try it elsewhere to compare notes. You know, for science. Ahem.
Next came the House Special Fried Rice. For $8.50, this was a great deal. A giant, steaming plate of friend rice was served to us, complete with vegetables, egg, shrimp, and pork. I could not stop eating it.
The fried rice was a great accompaniment to the next item we received – Kare Kare. Pronounced ‘carrie-carrie,’ the dish consisted of oxtail and beef tripe, served with vegetables and peanut sauce. It was amazing. The meat was so tender and fell apart easily, while the peanut sauce was not as heavy as I was expecting. JP mentioned that some people don’t like the taste of the shrimp paste that is served with it, but I wanted to try it as it was meant to be eaten. I found the addition of the shrimp paste to be delicious!
I must admit that at this point in the meal, I was feeling quite full. We weren’t finished, though. My lugaw arrived next – Filipino style congee with chicken and beef tripe. This was thick and flavorful, especially with the toasted garlic and scallions served on top. The soup was filled with meat and would be a perfect comfort dish on a cold day.
For dessert, I ordered the Leche Flan. Made with egg, caramel, & custard, this was a sweet and refreshing way to end my meal. JP ordered the Halo-Halo (a Tagalog word for ‘mixed’) which I neglected to snap a picture of. I did try it though, and found the mixture of icecream, shaved ice, milk, & plantains to be really good and not too sweet, though filling.
I would come back to PinPin Restaurant in a heartbeat. I will admit that at times I am intimidated by the thought of walking into restaurants when I have never tried the food before – it is shyness on my part mixed with being unsure what to order, and not wanting to look silly. I am happy to note that I do not feel such qualms anymore, after a warm welcome and a wonderful lunch.