A couple of months ago, there was a bit of a buzz when this restaurant quietly opened Main St. It was so under the radar that the chefs of the well-known places along this strip were taken by surprise.
Ping's Cafe occupies the same space as...Ping's Cafe. Let me explain. This restaurant is re-purposing the old sign (look at the pics) of an old Chinese-Canadian greasy spoon called Ping's where you were once able to buy cheap ($2.25) greasy burgers and "Chinese" food like Chow Mein way back when. Interestingly, at one point in the original "Ping's" history, the former owner's son tried to turn it into a semi-hip but short-lived nightspot called "Ping's At Night". The new owners, during renovations, decided to leave the old sign up and call it "Ping's Cafe".
Ping's serves Yoshoku-style Japanese cuisine. Yoshoku is "Western" cooking reinterpreted to Japanese tastes. It occupies the same aesthetic space as HK Cafes (cha chaang teng) and our very own diners/greasy spoon.
Essentially, Yoshoku is Japanese-inflected "homestyle" Western comfort food. Other places you can get this type of food are Yoshoku-Ya (near Stanley Park) and Hi Genki, in Burnaby, a restaurant which serves the Japanese senior-citizens living close by at the Sakura-so and Nikkei Home residences. Hi Genki is run by Fujiya. Some izakaya, and other Japanese restuarants have similar items on their menu.
We ordered pretty much everything on their appetizer section ($5-$8 per dish). Examples of the offerings include - Kabocha Korroke ("Croquettes"), Kinpira - Burdock and Carrot Salad, Tongkatsu, Yakitori Skewers, Karaage Gyoza, etc. The dishes were small but the prices were right. It allowed us to order quite a number of them without impacting the pocketbook too much. They also have some mains that average around $15 per. They have a limited wine list, a decent beer list and they only have one brand of sake - luckily the sakes are from the very good Osake - the local artisinal sake maker on Granville Island.
The restaurant is run by Joshua (formerly of Modern Club) and mother Hiroki. Hiroki told me that she really wanted to serve Okonomiyaki, but the kitchen modifications required were prohibitive. I'm hoping that this happens someday.
Overall, this restaurant fits right into the Main St dining mosaic. I forsee Ping's becoming more of a "drinks-forward" sort of a place. The prices are decent, and the food is scenester-friendly.