I kid you not, the BEST Bouillabaisse in Vancouver is in a little French restaurant in the King Edward plaza. Yah, I know, once you see on the website that it's a Chinese French chef, you have to wonder if he's going to add those little Chinese touches like fortune cookies at the end of the meal. No way. This guy's legit. He was trained classically in French traditional cuisine. He's got his certificates and stuff plastered on his walls and though the restaurant looks kinda nondescript and office-like from the outside, the food is amazingly good.
I've lived in France for a short time and during my stay there I didn't eat like a tourist. I ate and lived with real French families. I really miss traditional French fare. So it's nice to find a place that you can take your family and not worry about breaking the bank. As well, there is an unpretentious feeling here that makes you feel more relaxed. A particularly non-traditional thing about this place is the really decent portions you receive (compared to other local French restaurants). I mean you get good value for your money. The prices are not out of this world. They're in line with what you'd pay in a French bistro.
The restaurant's name, Henry's Kitchen, is somewhat deceiving as the name to me implies that it's Chinese-Canadian fare that you'll receive: sweet and sour pork, chop suey, hamburgers and fish and chips. NOT SO! Initially, when I read the menu online, I noticed some really glaring ESL problems (which of course bugged me!) Grammar and spelling aside, it looked interesting though. Recently, someone's cleaned up the grammar and pared down the menu so it doesn't read like a congee noodle house menu that goes on and on and on. Previously, the old menu made me worry too to see so many options because I wondered how fresh stuff could be if he's willing to make anything. Fortunately, his briefer menu is supplemented with a list of daily specials that I believe he rotates seasonally. This is good news. Also, during my visit there, I overheard that the kitchen sold out of a fish entree that was on the daily special (and it was only 6 p.m.!), indicating that he does use fresh ingredients and doesn't compromise there...
Stomach had a fish entree from the daily special, which he said was absolutely fresh (the scallops on the side were the best he's had) and Bebe had penne with tomato sauce. Bebe said she really liked her pasta and I noticed that the sauce was made from fresh tomatoes and it was cooked perfectly. My bouillabaisse came in a little wok and on the side there was the traditional rouille. Now, some westcoast restaurants don't even give you the rouille which I think is a cop-out. I had a hefty portion of mussels, delicately cooked prawns and scallops, fish, fresh herbs and (gasp) there was even fennel at the bottom! My favourite little touch was the turned potatoes. You don't see that very often anymore...someone actually going to the trouble of making little tapered barrel shapes. The only weird thing about the dinner was you didn't get traditional baguette. You have to order your bread. This is what tells you he's Chinese. The bread was soft and the taste and texture was somewhat like the pullman loaves you get at Asian bakeries. Not traditionally French or Italian but Bebe loved the garlic and cheese bread anyhoo.
RESTAURANT: Henry's Kitchen
ADDRESS: 904 West King Edward Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia
PHONE: (604) 738-9883
PARKING: free! in the plaza
TOTAL POINTS: 20/24
NOTES: SEE HENRY'S KITCHEN REVISITED FOR AN UPDATED REVIEW ON BOUILLABAISSE