When it comes to grabbing a quick bite that’s a step up from fast food but not quite sit down, we certainly have a lot of options. However, it’s not often you find a seafood restaurant that falls into that category. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but for hungry Torontonians looking for a quick meal from under the sea, it’s not always easy to find that special restaurant that gets things just right.
Enter Fresh Off The Boat, a Toronto joint located in the busy and bustling Queen W area of the city where “trendy” restaurants are a dime a dozen. With its seafood-based menu and quick and tasty dishes though, Fresh Off The Boat has managed to carve out a name for itself in the increasingly competitive Toronto restaurant scene.
Owner Quinten Tran is certainly no stranger to the industry, having once owned a Vietnamese restaurant on Spadina and also being one of the founders of the incredibly popular Buster’s Sea Cove food truck. His passion and love for food shines through here, and permeated through both dishes that we got to try.
But before we get into the food, let’s touch on the restaurant itself briefly. Though there is seating room, it is a bit limited. And that’s a shame, as the nautical design is rather interesting, and fitting. Standing room is available as well, but clearly the focus here is on takeaway, which is perfectly fine.
Using our trusty Grabb app, we were able to place the order beforehand, meaning it was ready right when we walked into the restaurant (seriously, if you’re not using Grabb to pick up your food, you’re doing it wrong). Having never been there before, we decided to go with their two most popular dishes: the Frisco Fries and the signature FOB Sandwich – both of which were absolutely delicious.
The FOB Sandwich (An asian poboy banh mi served with battered catfish, kimchi and burned aioli): Being Fresh Off The Boat’s signature item, we were more than eager to bite into this one. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. Overflowing with generous chunks of crispy catfish covered with that delicious burned aioli (which gives it a bit of a kick), the sandwich is certainly a messy affair, but every bite is so much better than the last that you won’t even mind. Throw in the crunch from the kimchi to give it a bit more texture and you’ve got one of the best fish sandwiches in the city.
Frisco Fries (Fresh cut seasoned fries with house made garlic aioli topped with mounds of fresh snow crab and garnished with fresh dill and parsley): Another dish that Fresh Off The Boat is well known for, the fries used minced crab meat instead of lumped, which was an interesting decision. It resulted in a generous helping (though we still ran out of crab well before the fries were done) of the delicious topping and certainly made for something that haven’t seen too often. Crab and french fries aren’t two items that you’d think to mix, but with the delicious garlic aioli tying them together, it made for a mouthwatering side dish that left our taste buds exhilarated.
Our experience with Fresh Off The Boat may have been brief, as we did takeout and only tried two items from the menu, but we certainly walked away with a new favorite when it comes to grabbing a quick bite that’s different from your typical burger or pizza joint. Sure, the food here may not exactly be healthy or something you’d want to be consuming every single day, but for a bit of deep fried indulgence every now and then, you could certainly do a lot worse.
With their inspired design, friendly staff and tasty menu, you can’t go wrong with Fresh Off The Boat if you’re looking for a delicious seafood fix.