When I think of things that scream Americana, I think regional flavors, wholesome activities I never learned to do like fishing, and chicly decorated fast food restaurants that blare Kacey Musgraves music from their dining room halls. It makes sense, then, that Arby’s decided to welcome in 2019 with a regional take on its seasonal fish sandwich.
Now, I’m not from Louisiana, but I did once rack up a $103.67 bill at a John Besh restaurant. So, I have some experience with the stereotypical (and delicious) Cajun flavors, including the bayou’s take on aioli, remoulade.
Nominally, the remoulade makes Arby’s newest variation of its fish sandwich “Cajun.” I say nominally because Arby’s could have gone the extra mile and stacked shrimp, crawfish, and andouille sausage on top of the triangular fish stick that constitutes the (not-meat) of the sandwich. Overkill? Maybe, but we are talking Arby’s. If venison and pork belly can make it into the fast food world, then shellfish can’t immediately be ruled out.
The lack of gumbo-on-a-bun notwithstanding, the sandwich has some Cajun flavor. Emphasis on the some. The remoulade is zesty, with a slight back-heat and just enough sweetness to give that iceberg lettuce a bit of extra flavor, and a composition somewhere between creamy and bumpy (yes, bumpy). But, much like the fish itself, it’s relatively plain, like a slightly spicier version of tartar sauce (which, coincidentally, has nothing to do with steak tartare.)
Even with the double-sided application, the remoulade fails to achieve optimal bun-protein-sauce ratio, mostly due to the oblong state of the fish and the circumference of the bun. This result is different tasting bites—some more prominent with the fish, others more bun, still others the whole fish and caboodle. And while the fish is executed perfectly — crispy, mild, flaky — it begs for a more assertive guiding flavor.
I get it: Each year, fast food chains attempt to position themselves in the fish sandwich wars with a “new” and updated take on what is actually a very boring sandwich blueprint. And, sometimes, something as simple as adding a sauce makes all the difference. But in the case of Arby’s Cajun Fish Sandwich, the remoulade is a little too mild, and a little too sparse to do the bayou justice.
Purchased Price: $3.49
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 590 calories, 260 calories from fat, 29 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1060 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of total carbohydrates, 43grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, 20 grams of protein.