Killer Shrimp is the place to be on National Shrimp Day
When someone goes into a restaurant multiple times within a week, while always ordering the same thing and carrying a notepad; it is a safe bet that they are up to no good. Sure, the person could be writing, studying or working, but more often than not, this scenario means someone is trying to figure out a recipe. That’s what I was doing at Killer Shrimp.
The first time I went to Killer Shrimp restaurant was in the '90s. I went with my family to this chic hole-in-the-wall restaurant on the second floor of a mini-shopping center. Technically, they only had two food items on the menu: Killer Shrimp and Pecan Pie. Now, some may call this a shrimp boil, but there is more to it than that. It is one of the best tasting slow cooked concoctions ever created and I wanted to know what it was!
In the twentysomething years that have followed since my two year stint living in LA, and the subsequent 2-4 visits per year since, try as I may, the folks at Killer Shrimp in Marina Del Rey, California will not divulge the recipe. The Pecan Pie is a secret too.
This recipe is a closely guarded secret. Famed musician Lee Michaels would return from life on the road and make huge vats of spicy broth cooked shrimp and his son Kevin Michaels (CEO of the Killer Shrimp), would invite family, friends and neighbors to join in the feast of what is now known as Killer Shrimp. Only Lee and his son Kevin know this 30-year-old secret recipe and they won’t share it. Believe me, I have tried.
When I first tried Killer Shrimp I was a wuss when it came to heat. For younger me, spice levels were always kept on the low-to-medium side of things—and that was with a vat of milk or huge dabs of sour cream or blue cheese nearby and tears flowed even with those accoutrements. These days, my tolerance for heat is greatly improved. I can even do the massively “Thai spicy” heat indicator when ordering my Sweet Basil Chicken lunch specials. Back then, I found Killer Shrimp to burn my face off. But between the superb herby balance, perfectly cooked shrimp and exquisite spice blend, I couldn’t give up on eating it, powering through the delicious pain.
You could order Killer Shrimp “Original,” either shelled or unshelled (the latter is a better, albeit messier experience, but it should be tried authentically at least once) with plenty of bread for sopping up the broth or over rice or noodles. I found the rice and noodle options to be a travesty. Why mess with perfection?
I wasn’t the only one who loved Killer Shrimp; they expanded. Then in 2011, they made some huge changes to the menu and moved to a still local, but bigger, more beautiful waterfront location. I was originally annoyed, perhaps even heartbroken, with this change. However, when I tasted their Grilled Hanger Steak, complete with bone marrow griddle cake, wilted spinach, roasted shallots, smoked bacon bordelaise and I almost changed my mind. Their other offerings were all amazing and I dream of the bone marrow griddle cake, but the Killer Shrimp still remains in a class by itself.
I attempted to revisit the restaurant and not get any Killer Shrimp, but I was weak. I couldn’t do it even though amazing Killer Crab Claws, Lobster Mac n' Cheese, Asian Pork Drumsticks (an unbelievably perfect blend of sweetness and spice), Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl, Seared Ahi Tuna Szechuan and Killer Paella were on the table.
People who don’t like shrimp or vegetarians will also find delicious and original offerings on the menu.
In addition to great Happy Hour specials, cocktail lovers will have a ball at Killer Shrimp. The full bar has something for everyone and their signature cocktails menu has a happy mix of classics and new favorites such as Pieces of Eight, Shrimp Killa, Smoky Paloma, Dark ‘n Stormy, The Westside, Killer Mai Tai and more offer some festive boozy fun and even the fruity frou frou drinks aren’t too sweet and have some nuance.
So, what’s in the sauce? I’m not sure. I think it is tomato-based, either seafood or chicken stock is used. There are lots of ingredients including: herbs, garlic, peppers and spices—fennel seed, butter? Maybe a little citrus.
As my notetaking wasn’t truly successful, I created my own version of the recipe. It is my one family’s favorite dishes that I make for them. I probably will never learn the actual recipe for Killer Shrimp, and while I am happy with my own, I will never stop going to Killer Shrimp in Marina Del Rey to taste their delicious offerings and hope to improve my own recipe.
Shrimp lovers should make Killer Shrimp in Southern California a destination location for some of the best food the world has ever known.
Find more information on Killer Shrimp in Marina del Rey, California go here.