We had just finished a good workout, and to celebrate were feening for something extra indulgent and extra comforting. And for that we reached out for Filipino cuisine, known to us for its higher fat content, and therefore more tasty morsels.
My guest is more familiar with the cuisine than I am, so ended up picking the restaurant and what we had below. Truth be told, I don’t find menus all that descriptive when it comes to Filipino cuisine. Plus the photos never seem to do the food justice, as the dishes don’t look all that photogenic; but at least it tastes good. And on that same vein is the decor and the exterior of such restaurant. In the case of Pin Pin, simply walking past I would not think to come in off the street. The exterior appeared run down and the restaurant offered no aesthetic or interior design. Yet it was fairly busy for a late lunch; although by the looks of things, seated by those in the know. This is one of those restaurants that requires a recommendation or a more intimate relationship with the cuisine. Therefore here today, I was happy to be passenger on this ride.
Bicol express is spicy pork strips cooked in coconut milk. As a new comer to the cuisine type, without any photo on the menu to reference, I would have been confused as to what came to the table. The dish didn’t look or taste spicy. It leaned heavily on the coconut milk flavour, over a salty creaminess that I did enjoy. The flavours were all there, no self seasoning needed, and it kept me going back for more. I especially like the sauce over the rice below. It was just a shame that the meat was over cooked and tough. My guest didn’t seem to notice, so this might be the norm. However from a foreign perspective, this would have been perfect if the texture of the meat was soften to match the lush sauce-like gravy.
I find rice necessary when enjoying Filipino cuisine, that tends to be on the saltier side. The rice offers a filling base, as well as a vehicle to help sop up all the excess sauce with. And I was more than happy having simply the sauce above over this Java rice. Not quite sure what java is, or what it is suppose to taste like, as the menu offered no description. But at least it was the perfect texture to add some easy (non over cooked) chewing. This is the large serving with plenty for two and leftovers.
We also got the Inihaw na liempo, simply listed as “pork belly” on the menu. No flavour or preparation description. I was only confident in the order, thanks to the run off confidence from my host. It tasted premade and pan heated to order. You got the flavours of an even grill, but the meat was once again on the tough side. And once again my host thought nothing of it, so this I have concluded that this is the norm. The side of mild, only slightly tangy sauce helped to lubricate the dry meat and change the flavour, but I would have preferred a nice gravy for this instead.
What doesn’t look like a lot of food on each place is actually plenty. We ate our fill and had enough for a meal of leftovers, the next lunch after. This may be in due to the richness of the dishes and the carbs from the rice, but count the portions out.
In closing this was a great option for Filipino cuisine on Fraser, beloved by the locals to the area and those in the know. I enjoyed my time, but recommend coming with a guide to be able to sort through the six page menu that is hard to navigate if you don’t know what you already like.
Pin Pin Restaurant
6113 Fraser St, Vancouver, BC V5W 2Z9