Archives for posts with tag: Shrimp

Fast food fish is difficult to pull off. There’s the ever-pressing question on the quality of the normal food at fast food establishments, and I think more people are wary of old seafood than an old burger. Oil quality and freshness is another, potentially underrated, issue. If the restaurant isn’t regularly cleaning and replacing the oil used for the fish, the air inside the establishment will have a gross funk, and the old oil will affect the taste of the fish, giving it a non-fresh taste. Also, fish items tend to be heavily battered, so you’re in for a heavy meal if you choose the fish route. Lastly, I also think they’re a tough sell if you’re near water. Any location that has access to fresh fish will also likely have cheap options to each said fresh fish. The price point may be higher than a fast fold establishment, but the quality is likely better.

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All of this is a roundabout way of saying that even though I’ve been going to Popeye’s since I learned of its existence, I had never ventured to stray from the chicken until I tried the Sweet Heat Butterfly Shrimp. There’s no longer a product description on their website, but this is pretty self-explanatory: the breading on the shrimp combined sweet and spicy elements over their standard butterfly shrimp. This was sold in several different permutations: I ordered a 10-piece meal for $6.49, but it was also available in smaller portions in a $5 box. My meal came with a drink and a side dish.

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The Sweet Heat Butterfly Shrimp have a good crunchy breading. Even though the surface area on the shrimp is smaller than on a chicken piece, you’re still getting that satisfying crunch on each bite. While there wasn’t an upfront spice, I did feel a lingering spicy aftertaste after I started eating the shrimp, which was pleasant. It wasn’t so hot as to set your mouth on fire, but at lot of fast food places don’t really deliver on promised heat. The shrimp meet that challenge.

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Unfortunately, it’s the sweet aspect of the breading that did not leave me with a favorable impression. My initial thought is that it had a vanilla frosting taste. I don’t mind vanilla frosting, but it’s not an enjoyable taste when combined with shrimp and cayenne pepper. As I continued to eat, the sweetness became overwhelming, perhaps because I didn’t like that taste so it stood out more.

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The butterfly shrimp themselves were surprisingly good. They weren’t tough or overly fishy. I didn’t get a big shrimp taste, but they served as a useful vehicle for the breading, which was the star of the meal. The shrimp were a decent size, and ten is definitely enough for a regular meal. They weren’t overly greasy or heavy. Perhaps most importantly, just like their chicken tenders, you can dip them into the mashed potatoes and they still taste good.

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The only drawbacks to the shrimp: there were some issues in the consistency of the breading and they were served with the tails on. Not all the shrimp had full breading coverage, which defeats the purpose of the special breading. And while I don’t mind the tails on the shrimp, that makes them harder to eat with a fork, if you’re so inclined. Your hands are going to get a little messy.

While I wasn’t a fan of the Sweet Heat Butterfly Shrimp because of the overly sweet breading, I can say that I was a fan of the shrimp and regret not trying them before now. I’m not sure if they’ll come into the regular Popeye’s rotation, but I would absolutely order them again. I’ll also keep an eye in the future for new shrimp items that feature spiciness. I think I’d unequivocally like a spicy shrimp from Popeye’s. Because the experience broadened my menu choices at Popeye’s, I’d call it a success!

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This post begins my transition from the west coast back east. The unfortunate aspect of this move, blog-wise, is that there are less fast food options in my current location, as well as fast food outlets not being as convenient (can you believe there’s no Taco Bell within a 5 minute drive?!?!). On my drive across the country, of course I was on the lookout for new places/things to eat, which led me to a Del Taco drive-thru in Flagstaff, Arizona after midnight. I’d only been to Del Taco once before, and that was sometime in 2006 in Colorado, so I had no clue what to expect. I remembered a competent fast food taco, but nothing that would make me forget Taco Bell.

Scanning the menu for new items, I came across the Surf and Taco Burrito. I knew immediately that I had to eat this. Unfortunately, I did not save the receipt. Luckily, the Del taco press release states that the burrito cost $5.29 a la carte, or $6.79 as a meal, which comes with a medium soda. Unfortunately, it appears that they no longer offer this item. However, expect a price around there if it ever makes another appearance.

Here is a burrito

Here is a burrito

Quick note before we begin: since I ate this so long ago, it’s not quite as cohesive as normal posts. I’m just following my notes, so this post just mirrors my eating experience in the order in which I wrote things down.

The Surf and Turf Burrito “is loaded with crispy golden shrimp, freshly grilled carne asada steak, lime rice, crunchy cabbage, and is topped with creamy ancho sauce, freshly chopped pico de gallo salsa and Del Taco’s secret sauce.” Let’s unpack this, shall we? Coming out of the bag, the burrito smelled good. I’ll admit it was late and I was hungry, but smelling it really put me in a good eatin’ mood, and that counts for something. It also looked pretty damn big. Del Taco says it weighs between 13-18.5 ounces. I have no clue where it landed on that scale, but I knew I was going to be full after eating this (and several tacos I got on the side). Last note before we go into the taste: I ordered this late at night, and it sat for at least 15 minutes between being handed to me, and my eating, so keep in mind Del Taco may not have put its best foot forward on this item.

Clearest shot I have

Clearest shot I have

The first few bites were just tortilla. While it did smell good, it was a little much and I wanted to get to the filling. Also, it was lukewarm, but, once again, it had been sitting. The shrimp were surprisingly not bad for fast food shrimp! They were clearly frozen, but they didn’t taste fishy or foul. The batter stayed quite crispy inside the burrito, which is quite a feat. Also, the batter had some actual flavoring and a little spice, which was a nice touch.

Surf!

Surf!

As I continued eating, I got some sauce, and it was not good. It tasted biter. I’m still not sure if this was the secret sauce, or perhaps the cabbage overwhelming other tastes. Anyway, when I got to eat the shrimp and beef together, it was a nice combo. Surf and turf! Who’d have thought it would work that well together? However, there were too many bites with only shrimp, beef and tortilla. Yes, we have an ingredient placement problem. Most burrito places can’t get this right, so it’s not like this is a special Del Taco problem, but we need an organized system for placement of ingredients in burritos. I shouldn’t have one meat bite, one veggie/sauce/guac bite, and one rice bite as I eat a burrito. They need to be mixed together.

Lots of cabbage

Lots of cabbage

Rant aside, let’s get back to the beef. To be honest, upon viewing the beef, it looked a little sickly and kinda gross. The taste was much better than the beef appeared. It also had a little spice on it (pepper), and it wasn’t too chewy, frequently a problem with fast food steak. At this point, I also started tasting a hint of lime, which added some freshness to a burrito where I know almost all of the ingredients came out of the freezer. I should say that no matter how I feel overall about this burrito, these small touches that Del Taco added really added to the experience. Things like seasoning the meat/batter so they can be tasted and squeezing some lime on top are touches overlooked by most fast food establishments, so they are definitely noticed when applied.

*Correction: The lime flavor came from the rice! Sure, it overwhelmed the rice and took out any possibly rice-y flavor it may have had, but there was no fresh squeezed lime juice on this. I should have known better. Sigh.*

Turf!

Turf!

Getting back to that bitter taste, about halfway through, I came to the conclusion that it was the cabbage. Not sure if this was a bad batch, or if it was supposed to be this bitter, but it wasn’t good and I started picking it out to avoid the taste. I decided to add some ‘Inferno Sauce’ to see how it would pair with the burrito. It was good… until my tongue and lips started burning. Definitely hotter than Taco Bell’s Fire Sauce. I thought this was going to be a regular hot sauce, not a death sauce. I had to take a break for my taste buds to recuperate before I could continue eating.

Uneven disrtibution

Uneven distribution

The rice was meh. It was there. I saw it and definitely took bites from those areas of the burrito, but I never tasted it and there wasn’t enough of it in quantity to overcome the lack of taste and force me to pay attention. This disappointed me since I like rice in burritos (yeah, I said it).

*Correction: there was a ton of rice at the bottom of this burrito. We really need to space these ingredients out. At the end, all I was eating was rice, tortilla and hot sauce.*

That fold is a little big...

That fold is a little big…

The pico de gallo suffered from the same problem as the rice. I never tasted it, so it was just there, taking up space. I also never individually identified the sauces, so I have nothing specific to say about the secret sauce, nor the creamy ancho sauce.

Burrito guts!

Burrito guts!

In conclusion, we have a pretty good burrito here! There was more beef than shrimp, but it’s not like they skimped on the shrimp, unlike the El Pollo Loco shrimp experience. Also, while this burrito isn’t cheap, as far as fast food goes, you probably need to pair it with something else to be full satisfied. I ate it with two tacos, which was probably a bit much. I think one would have sufficed. The burrito was well wrapped and didn’t leak out sauce, so you could probably even eat this in the car. I can’t comment on whether I would eat this again since I don’t like near a Del Taco and have no experience with most of their food, but this was a good burrito, and I hope Del taco brings it back so more people can give it a shot.

I’m a sucker for 1) anything labeled new (hence this blog) and 2) anyplace producing something outside their normal comfort zone. So when I got some coupons in the mail a few weeks ago advertising Baja Shrimp from El Pollo Loco, a local Mexican grilled chicken chain, I had to give it a shot.

Everything all together

Everything all together

I decided to order the Shrimp and Chicken Bowl it cost $9.02, which seemed expensive. It did come with two flour or corn tortillas, and it was a lot of food, but an Original Pollo Bowl (basically the same thing minus the shrimp) is only $5. I think this was larger than the Original Pollo Bowl though, and I actually couldn’t finish. The bowl didn’t appear deep, but it was long and deceptively full of food.

There were only four shrimp in the bowl. They were at a lukewarm temperature, and they were small. I can excuse the temperature since this was 8:30PM on a Friday night (I swear I have a life!). I don’t imagine these things were selling like hotcakes at that hour.

Shrimp close up

Shrimp close up

El Pollo Loco says that the Baja Shrimp are “marinated in our authentic blend of herbs and spices.” I can attest that there was some spice there. They were good! Plus they didn’t smell or taste fishy, which was surprising. When eaten with the other things in the bowl (rice, chicken, beans and pico de gallo), the flavor held up and shone through.

This is a short review, because I really don’t think I need to review a Pollo Bowl. I’m all about the shrimp here. So is it worth it? I’d unfortunately say not. While they were good, the added price here is not worth it for 4 small shrimp. If you really want shrimp that badly, you’re better off going to Long John Silver’s or, you know, an actual fish restaurant. So while I’m impressed with El Pollo Loco’s ability to make a quality shrimp, unless they add more or lower prices, you’re better off sticking with their chicken selections.

I really couldn't finish this thing

I really couldn’t finish this thing

As a footnote, since I ate this, it appears the bowl is no longer available. A check on El Pollo Loco’s website shows that they’re still advertising Baja Shrimp, but right now they’re only in tacos. Maybe that would work better since they’d need to put more shrimp in there.