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Spot prawns? Or, big fat shrimp.

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I had four huge shrimp in curry sauce at Jitlada, for about $22. They were so amazing that I've been back twice for the exact same dish. I'm assuming these are the spot prawns I see in the tank at the Asian groceries. I don't think I'm ready just yet to buy them live and cook them at home myself. Surely my fellow Chows can refer me to another good place that does these big fat shrimp well. Am I correct that spot prawns are just big fat shrimp? Are they a seasonal thing here in So Cal? Thanks!

5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

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  1. Yup, spot prawns are some of the biggest shrimp we eat! And Seafood Watch approves of us eating them, phew.

    They're on Walter Manzke's menu at Test Kitchen LA, but that ends in two days. But, they're served at Church & State to much acclaim, using what I assume is his recipe.


    Church & State
    1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

    6 Replies
    1. re: Papuli

      Had these at Test Kitchen on wednesday night and they were fantastic, especially the fried heads. I really hope he opens his own place soon.

      1. re: mollyomormon

        So good to know. I'm going there Saturday and was wondering if I should really splurge....decision made!

        1. re: Papuli

          Yes, splurge! Definitely also get an order of the corn fritters and the fois gras butter with lavender honey from the tapas menu. The entire meal was very good to excellent and I really loved the thai carrot soup, which is very similar to a crab version of the same dish that I had at Bastide when he was at the helm, except this version was even better, to my taste. Cocktails were also great.

          Cne member of our party had never had the fried heads and was a little nervous to try them, but these made him a convert.

          Bastide Restaurant
          8475 Melrose Place, West Hollywood, CA 90069

        2. re: mollyomormon

          I absolutely love fried prawn heads.

          1. re: mollyomormon

            going test kitchen as well...are those prices for tapas per person or per plate?
            is it shareable?

            1. re: rickym13

              There's the prix fixe menu for $52 and on wednesday night, there was also a tapas menu, which was around $12 per plate. I think there were maybe 6 items on the tapas menu and 6 of us at dinner so we ordered each, in addition to the prix fixe menu. The items I mentioned were my favorites.

        3. Do a search for Santa Barbara Spot prawns. You should get a few hits. They're not shrimp, they look like shrimp sized lobster. The taste is sweeter, firmer. Shell is harder. Delish!

          6100 Wilshire Blvd Ste 160, Los Angeles, CA 90048

          1. Fisherman's Outlet downtown. Four huge grilled shrimp $16.50.

            Fisherman's Outlet
            529 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90013

            1. There are a few places that sell them live, if you want to cook them yourself. The Japanese fish market wholesalers have them, just east of downtown. Try International Marine Products about --$22/lb or so.

              International Marine Products
              500 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA

              1 Reply
              1. re: ickster

                I have bought them live from Santa Monica Seafood.

              2. any chinese resto's worth their salt do them well. a simple steamed preparation is my favorite.

                if you are ready to cook them yourself, go to any 99 ranch. they are typically @ $20/lb but sometimes go on sale for $13-15/lb. i go this route when i crave amaebi.

                1 Reply
                1. re: wilafur

                  Hawaii Supermarket has live large shrimp for a bit cheaper than 99 Ranch, and their shrimp are just as big and fresh and alive (jumping!) as the ones at 99 Ranch.

                  If you someone else to cook 'em, boil 'em, or steam 'em, I'd recommend the good folks at Pacific Fish Center, on the Redondo Beach PIer.

                  Pacific Fish Center & Restaurant
                  131 Fishermans Wharf, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

                2. I had a really good one, grilled with lemon garlic sauce at Takao in Brentwood, but $14 for 1 big fat shrimp so not quite as cheap as Jitlada.

                  5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                  11656 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                  1. Providence offers Santa Barbara spot prawns cooked in a sea of salt--fantastic!

                    5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                    1. Santa Barbara Spot Prawns are a relatively deep water species of shrimp that are found and harvested by traps along the West Coast. The season approximately runs from February to October. I found these really nice photos from oishieats' blogsite (BTW, excellent blog!) - I don't know if you can discern whether these are what you ate since the SB Spot Prawns lose a lot of the patterning on the shells once they are cooked:


                      They do tend to run big - six to eight inches stretched out from head to tail on the big girls, and as beautifully crimson as they are, the head, abdominal segments and telson (that sharp thing by the tail) are extremely tough like armor.

                      Places that focus on fresh seafood (preferably live) are the likeliest places to find them. Other than the specific places already mentioned in this thread, three types of eateries that are most likely to offer these would be live seafood counters that have kitchens, certain (usually upper tier) sushi bars, and Chinese restaurants that focus on live seafood (most likely Cantonese/Hong Kong-style). We enjoyed some the other night at Sea Harbour in Rosemead. Poached in Chinese wine, they were excellent. If you order them to be served sashimi-style, you can have the heads fried as an added treat. Sushi bars that offer amaebi will most likely do the same with the heads as well. But the SB Prawn has a massive head that is extremely hard, so be prepared for some serious chomping. Whatever the case, be sure to at least eat the contents inside the head.

                      Purchasing SB Spots live is essential to insure quality. Many shrimp and prawns contain an enzyme that is released into the body once they start to expire. This enzyme breaks down the delicate proteins into mush. You also want to avoid SB Prawns that have black spots on the abdominal segments - this usually indicates that they are starting to go south.

                      I am guessing that the vast majority of SB Spots are currently going to the Chinese markets and restaurants, so places like 99 Ranch and Hawaii supermarkets would be the easiest places to find them. If you plan on buying them and preparing them at home, bring a water-tight smallish cooler into the store to carry them and for the ride back home (hopefully not too far, turn on the AC full blast and cover/store out of the sun). Upon purchasing the prawns, ask the fish monger if he can pour some of the salt water from the tank into your cooler. It doesn't have to be much - just enough to keep the prawns' gills moist. The bags that the prawns will be held in usually have pre-punched holes in them so this may be enough to allow the water to keep the prawns moist. If not, consider removing the bag and letting the prawns lay in the water in the bottom of the cooler.