Takeaway Truth: Mad Mex Baja Prawn Tacos

Takeaway Truth is a regular Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. Today: Mad Mex’s Baja Prawn Tacos. (Taste test included!)

According to Mad Mex’s blog, the Baja Prawn Tacos were dreamt up by the company’s CEO while surfing off the Baja California peninsula over seven sun-soaked holidays. The wealthy git. It’s being billed as the only product featuring prawns in the fast casual Mexican space. (I’d wager there are scores of independent restaurants and market stalls who would beg to differ on that score.)

The hero ingredient of Mad Mex’s new tacos is prawns sautéed in chipotle chilli in adobo, garlic and lemon oil. It also comes with a Mexican slaw made from yogurt, lime and chipotle, along with a medley of salsa, onion and coriander. Otherwise, it uses the same miniature soft-shell “street tacos” as Mad Mex’s other taco products.

The flavour combination of fresh tacos with juicy sautéed prawns finished in lime, garlic and chili sure does sound mouth-watering. Unfortunately, the reality of fast food rarely matches the customer’s expectations — especially if the poster factored into their buying decision. Let’s find out if the Mad Mex Baja Prawn Tacos are able to buck this tend.

Here’s what the product looks like on Mad Mex’s Facebook page:

And here’s what we got served from a Circular Quay outlet:

Here they are side-by-side:

Eew. The most glaring difference between the two images is the avalanche of lettuce smothering the real tacos. The advertising image has none. I specifically requested that my tacos be made to look like the poster with no extras, so I’m not sure what happened there.

The taco shells are also disappointingly thin and dry looking. But the biggest fault probably comes down to assembly. Simply put, our meal was a mess. There was no attempt to create a trio of neatly separated tacos: instead, the fillings were just dumped carelessly in the middle of three overlapping taco shells.

If we hadn’t picked up a knife and fork before leaving the store it would have been nearly impossible to eat. (Mad Mex either needs to boost the size of its bread or cut back on fillings with an accompanying drop in price.) To make matters worse, the taco bread was ill-equipped to deal with the oil and sauce — it essentially disintegrated when we attempted to pick one up.

As for the taste, I doubt I’ll be going back for Baja Prawn Tacos any time soon. While the prawns were pleasantly firm and juicy, the slaw was a bit too rich and creamy for my tastes; after a few bites I ended up scraping most of it out.

If you’re keen to give it a try, I’d recommend going for the Naked Taco version, which comes in a bowl, sans shell. This cuts down on the mess and is also a lot more pleasing to the eye.

Truth Verdict: 4/10

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