Call me a late bloomer, but I didn't discover the Shrimp Tempura Taco until a year or so ago. Now I am in love with them. Though I know grilled shrimp is way healthier, blah blah blah, I wholeheartedly prefer the crunchiness of the tempura battered shrimp with the freshness of the cabbage and creaminess of the sauce all wrapped in a warm corn tortilla. And with seafood tacos, you really have to go with corn tortillas; I think it might actually be a law. Anyway, after having a major craving, I decided to try out both Berryhill and El Rey on consecutive days and do a comparison of their shrimp tempura tacos. Let's see how these heavyweights stacked up against one another.
Berryhill's "Crispy Shrimp" taco (seen above) is described as "tempura fried shrimp with red cabbage, remoulade sauce and cilantro". It sells for a whopping $3.99 a taco or $10.99 for 2 tacos plus rice and beans. The taco came out steaming hot and wrapped in foil. The first thing I noticed was that it was a massive taco with a good amount of big, crispy shrimp and lots of cabbage. The sauce was good, but there wasn't much of it. I didn't even notice the cilantro. The shrimp were folded into a double layer of corn tortillas, which were exceptionally bland and almost soggy. I did enjoy the shrimp, but the trimmings were so tasteless that I ended up picking out the shrimp and leaving the rest.
El Rey got points instantly for having a convenient drive thru. It was pouring down rain outside and I was extremely happy to get a decent meal without having to leave the comfort of my dry car. Each taco was a more reasonable $2.35. I got a couple and drove on into the deluge. I noticed that though the tacos were not quite as large as Berryhill's, they were still two corn tortillas overstuffed with plenty of crispy shrimp, red cabbage, and creamy cilantro sauce. I should mention that these are not particularly good for eating on the road. The shrimp tend to fall out and the cabbage gets everywhere. I was impressed with the plentiful amount of shrimp, but I thought the abundance of red cabbage was a bit overkill. It overpowered the taco, so I had to take some off. The cilantro sauce was amazing, better than the remoulade, but it was such a scant amount, it left me wanting more. The corn tortillas were better, though still a bit bland. I am very picky about my tortillas though.
The winner: I have to go with El Rey, but just by a little. The cilantro sauce was better than Berryhill's remoulade. Both tacos were very good though, especially in terms of the shrimp tempura. If you're looking for a good shrimp tempura, either one would make a decent choice but you might have to bring your own tortillas and ask for extra sauce if you're wanting something really amazing.
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