A year after my quest has begun, I can now say with confidence that I have found a Filipino restaurant in Vancouver proper that has become my new standard: Pinpin.
Don’t be fooled by the “Filipino-Chinese” classification on Pinpin’s awning and menu. Most Filipinos eat dishes whose origins stem from China…but these so-called Filipino-Chinese dishes, like pancit canton and chicken mami, are unmistakeably Pinoy and would probably surprise your average Filipino by suggesting that it was even remotely Chinese. Moreover, the Chinese selections on Pinpin’s menu are clearly grouped on a single page of their colourful and informative menu.
Let’s touch upon this menu a little more.
Pinpin, being one of the rare Filipino eateries in the city that is not turo-turo (buffet) in style, has an enormous selection featuring a wide range of Tagalog and other regional dishes to satisfy most families in the know. For those who are new to the cuisine and unfamiliar with the language, be comforted that the menu also has full colour illustrations of some of the more popular items, plus English descriptions of every dish that would be hard to decipher otherwise.
I’d liken the style of this restaurant to a casual, family-style Chinese restaurant: no-frills environs, descriptive and extensive menu, a mix of standalone and communal tables, and huge portions. We’ve managed to eat at Pinpin as a couple for under $20 and always wind up asking for take-out containers to spoon our leftovers into. For maximum value, come in a group of 4 or more. You’ll be able to try a bunch of dishes for a similar price per person and approximate what it’d feel like to be in the midst of a Filipino family potluck.
Word of warning to non-Filipinos: be prepared for the stares. This establishment, like most Filipino restaurants, are patronized almost exclusively by Filipinos and their families, and having travelled in the Philippines recently, I suspect that it’s a habit to pay rapt attention to newcomers. However, no malice is intended, and if you venture to chat with any of your dining neighbours, I’m sure you’ll find everyone to be hospitable and friendly, if only a little surprised to see you.
But I digress – on to the food.
Pinpin comes the closest to my family’s style of cooking out of all the restaurants I have tried to date. Consequently, I feel right at home each time I drop in for a bite or grab a couple of dishes to take to go. Thus far, I’ve tried the sinigang, kare kare, pancit sotanghon, Bicol Express, lechon kawali, and pinakbet and can’t say anything but yum.
This is not to say that there are no criticisms to make.
My favourite dish to order, menudo, is nowhere to be found on their menu, despite conversations with the owners about making it a seasonal or even a regular offering in the future.
Win a $30 gift certificate to Pinpin
I am so truly impressed by the food at Pinpin that I forked out $30 of my own cash for a gift certificate to Pinpin, so that one Tiny Bites reader can get a chance to sample what I feel to be one of the most representative Filipino restaurants in Vancouver proper, I mean it is really affordable and it makes me extremely happy because that means that at the end I will still be able to save money for that watch from plantwear I want. But you have to work for it.
Here are the contest rules.
- Drop me a comment here.
- In your comment, tell me about a Filipino dish that you either love or have always wanted to try. Share your reasons why that is so.
- On Friday, May 29th at 12pm, I’ll do a random draw from all the entries and announce the winner here and on Twitter.
If you can’t wait until then to try Pinpin, don’t let me stop you from heading there this week. I hope you’ll love it as much as we do.
6113 Fraser St | Vancouver
Filipino Restaurant Series to date:
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