Fresh Off The Boat is a newly open ‘seafood joint’ in the city’s vibrant and cultured Queen West area, which holds a heavy, yet clever tongue-in-cheek Asian reference and flair. Nonetheless, owner, Quinten Tran (who was also one of the founders of “Buster’s Sea Cove” food truck) found its derogatory term to fit appropriately by embracing its cheeky double entendre suitable for a seafood-centric spot.
Although the space serves as a mini dine-in and dive, it mainly focuses on takeaway as it’s located in the city’s busy Queen and Spadina area. Nevertheless, it offers minimal and intimate sized eating accommodations with a couple of tables pushed back against an aqua blue (mimicking the sea) leather banquette, and a bar-style option on the opposite side.
The space has all the characters of a trendy and modern sea shanty—fish printed wallpaper, ropes, lanterns, a wall of uniquely framed pictures, and other nautical trinkets—plus a few Asian elements, like a floor-to-ceiling shelving unit crammed with Sriracha bottles and secured by marine ropes.
The chalkboard menu (divided into picture frames) lists about a dozen seafood options and sides, with an influence on Asian-Canadian flair. For instance, their signature sandwich is the FOB ($11.95) which is also known as their version of an Asian poboy banh mi: battered catfish, kimchi and burned aioli, served with broccoli house slaw and fresh cut fries with a bit of heat.
I, on the other hand, went the whole nine yards and opted for the deep fried battered Soft Shell Crab sandwich ($14.95) with remoulade, lettuce, tomato, fresh cut fries and house broccoli slaw. The featured specimen was intimidating at first as its legs and claws dangle over the edges of the sweet, dense brioche bun. All-in-all, it was pefectly crisp and succulently delicious. It was quite the heavy and satisfying meal. A walk afterwards was much needed.
Catering to pescetarians and seafood lovers, this new joint has its advantage as it’s exactly what the Queen West strip is lacking. Althoguh they are squeezed between Kinton Ramen and Rose City Kitchen, and on the same block as Banh Mi Boys and Burger's Priest, they stand as their own competition. It’s safe to say that Fresh Off The Boat adds a fresh new take to what has quickly become a densely delicious corner of Queen Street West. Well deserved.
Now go on, unbuckle your belt and/or pant button and dig in! Tell ‘em I sent ya!
404 Queen St. West, Toronto / 416 603 3333 / Mon - Sat 11am - 9pm | Sun Closed