Occasionally I get obsessed with one food. I’ll go for months craving a certain dish, ordering it consistently at restaurants. Some of my fixations have included, udon soup, zeppole (Italian pastries made for the feast of St. Joseph on March 19) and chicken Shawarma sandwiches. My latest little craze has been fish tacos, a bit of a miracle since my first experience eating one was terrible. After many years of hearing about their rise in popularity on the west coast where they originated, it was something I had to try. So, on my first trip to California, eating some fish tacos was a priority.
I found a Mexican restaurant in Monterrey and straight away ordered the Baja Fish tacos. They arrived lukewarm, overcooked and had clearly been re-heated from the day before. I wasn’t as sophisticated in those days and was too timid to complain or sent them back. Instead, I choked them down and vowed never to eat one again.
That bad experience didn’t deter me and I continued to give them a try in the hopes of getting a good one and understanding what all the fuss was about. Since then I have discovered many good fish tacos and have become picky about what makes a good one.
El Catrin’s Baja taco is crispy fried cod dressed with a tasty chipotle lime coleslaw. Cod is a great fish for this dish given its mildness and coarse flake. The tangy chipotle and lime dressing give the taco a zing but doesn’t overwhelm the fish. They are three for $15.00, a good sharing plate or a filling meal for one.
Milagro Cantina’s, La Perla is battered red snapper, tropical slaw and chile crema. The red snapper is a finely texture fish and light tasting as well. The tropical slaw lacked a little in flavour but the chile crema and a squeeze of lime make them pretty tasty nevertheless. On the lunch menu you get two for $12.50 .
La Mexicana on Yonge at Bloor, has served up authentic Mexican food since 1988 in Toronto. On a rainy night in October, I made my way in from the cold to the warm and cosy atmosphere of their place at 838 Yonge St. The menu doesn’t specify what kind of fish is used, I suppose it’s based on availability.
The fish taco dish is delicious and a great value as a main at $16.00 for dinner. The tacos are dressed with cabbage and chipotle mayo. While the cabbage on top doesn’t add much, the mayo was flavorful. The crispy lightness of the battered fish was an sign of the use of fresh oil in their deep-fryer, always a big plus – because you can taste the difference.
This only the tip of the Toronto fish taco iceberg, with more “authentic” Mexican restaurants opening every month here, my quest for tasting has no limit and I’ll be on the look out for more. In the meantime, bon appétit my eating friends.