The Intrepid Gastronomer: Delightfully bland

Photo by KP Davis
Photo by KP Davis

A review of Cockney Kings

By KP Davis, Contributor

The history of fish and chips is an interesting one. Originally brought to England in the 16th century by Jewish immigrants, it was a way of preserving food over the Sabbath before the days of refrigeration. Like any food born of necessity, a basic functional taste is all that is required. As the chippie has become a staple of metropolitan English cuisine for centuries and the battered fish the symbol of Britannia, it’s not unbelievable that a few places would make a go of it here in Vancouver.

Fish and chips is one of those meals that is really easy to completely botch. And despite the school of battered fish that was exiting the kitchen, Cockney Kings did pretty well. I started with the seafood chowder. Unlike other chowders I have had, this wasn’t creamy or tomato based, but a traditional salty broth filled with big chunks of fish, finished with celery, bacon, and green peppers and served with a nice fluffy white roll. Dinner was off to a great start.

The chips came out crisp and piping hot. It’s obviously expected that you drown them in your condiments of choice as they were quite plain, even lacking much in the way of salt. I happily obliged with malt vinegar and an unhealthy dose of sodium. The chips were delicious as long as they were fresh, but they lost integrity once they began to cool.

I had quite the selection of fish to choose from for my piece, and I was delighted to discover that it didn’t have to be battered. As much as I am a sucker for a nice grilled piece of halibut, I got the battered cod. It came piping hot and delicious. I tore into it, singeing my palate slightly in the process. The batter was a little on the heavy side and I began to wonder how anyone could eat more than two pieces. The tartar sauce complemented the cod very well, being a little bland and not overly pickle-flavoured or vinegary.

The oyster that came was salty and plump, though I found the batter a little flowery and soggy on the bottom, whereas the prawns came out lightly battered and crisp. The coleslaw side was served in a paper ramekin and I found it to be subtly flavoured—not bland, but also not strong enough to overpower the fish.

I must say that I was presently surprised by my visit to Cockney Kings. They fry up a pretty good fish, even if the batter can be a little on the heavy side. Nothing overly peppered or salted, and the food cooked well, delightfully bland, and English.

Cockney Kings can be found at 66 10th Street in New Westminster and at 6574 East Hastings in Burnaby.