Dive-ing for Decent Shrimp at Knock Kneed Lobster and King's Fish House
Phoenix isn't exactly the first place I think of when I want fresh fish. But there's one fish dish that's I've found to be consistently decent here, perhaps owing to the fact that it's deep-fried: popcorn shrimp. It's a great little starter, the perfect appetizer to kick off a good seafood meal (or make you forget the rest of a bad one).
For this week's Battle of the Dishes, we went in search of seafood joints known for their popcorn shrimp.
In One Corner: King's Fish House at the Tempe Marketplace
35 S. McClintock Dr. in Tempe
|Not exactly a King-sized portion.|
I'd been dying to try the California-based King's Fish House since it popped up at the Tempe Marketplace a couple of years ago. My significant other was put off by the fishy smell wafting 24/7 from the place, so I'd never made it there. But with the promise of something fried, I managed to drag him to King's for a cozy little date.
Apparently at King's, "shrimp" is more than just the type of meat you'll get -- it's a description of the size of the serving. A white platter tossed with a handful of battered and fried shrimp arrived at our table. The lemon wedge and cup of sauce took up most of the empty space on the plate, but for ten bucks we expected a little more food.
We hungrily dug into the fried nuggets. "It's buttery," remarked my date, "and the breading is good, but I could get this for a lot less at Long John Silver's." Ouch! He wasn't far off on the breading being similar to LJS, though the quality of the shrimp meat at King's is far superior. Even the smaller, lower grade beauties they use for popcorn shrimp.
The breading was a cross between panko bread crumbs and a hush puppy batter; crisp and golden, with a sweet undertone. The shrimp was fresh enough to avoid tasting of iodine or Swamp Thing. But there was a lack of the "zing" factor: no delicate spice blend or beer batter to propel this dish above standard pub grub quality. The zesty tartar sauce was the only saving grace. Well, that and the outstanding service. Our server was polite and efficient, and even the manager came over to check on us -- a formerly commonplace occurrence I haven't experienced in a while.
In the Other Corner: Knock Kneed Lobster
3202 E. Washington Street in Phoenix
|My half of the shrimp & chips platter at Knock Kneed Lobster was as big as King's full portion.|