Posted by: Hungry Korean | September 3, 2010

Let’s do a lobster roll tour

Sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been visiting the motherland, Korea, and unable to post regularly. On the upside, expect to see blogs about my adventures in the next coming days. “Hungry Korean does Korea!” 🙂 How fitting indeed..

In the meantime, please enjoy this blog from Cookie Monster where he does an impressive tour of the various lobster roll joints located in NYC and the Hamptons.

Guest Blogger: Cookie Monster

It was 2009 and a friend of mine (Cesc Fabregas) brought me to Pearl Oyster Bar to have my first taste of a fine culinary delight called a Lobster Roll (pictured below).     Now people tell me that Pearl’s is the best, that you can’t top it and that I will only be disappointed with any other lobster roll I try after. It was indeed one of the best I have tasted to this day – the right balance of buttery bread and sweet, chunky lobster meat with an accent of creamy mayonnaise for lubrication, clean lemon to add freshness and crunchy celery for texture and  rounding out the bouquet of flavor.

As a result of this experience, last summer I decided that I would make lobster rolls from scratch for my housemates in the share out in Amagansett. So a few of us piled into the truck and headed down to the seafood store to pick out our 13 clawed creatures (yes 13 of them – there were 15 people in the house).  It took quite some time to steam all of them but once they were done, the Hungry Korean stepped in to show me how to maximize the amount of meat being pulled out of each and every crevice of the lobster so as to not waste any savory bits (she also had her fair share of the innards – brains, eggs and all – apparently the best part but I beg to differ).  We didn’t want to overdress the lobster with ingredients so we kept the meat very chunky (using both the tail and claw and a little from the legs) and simply used the traditional ingredients of mayonnaise, celery, onions, salt, pepper, lemon and chives.   The vessel for delivery was a soft, hot dog shaped potato roll (the only option in my book) to accentuate the luxury of the lobster salad.  Overall, I was satisfied with the result as were my housemates. The insatiable taste buds of the Hungry Korean went back for thirds …

While the experience of successfully creating a culinary something from scratch should be thoroughly gratifying, I felt that in order to truly understand the art of the lobster roll, I needed to broaden my horizons with the various shapes, sizes, flavor profiles, bread combinations that the lobster roll can offer.  As a result, I decided THIS would be the summer of the lobster roll, temporarily putting my health and well being on hold to try to fulfill my desire for crustacean perfection.   Here is my initial study of what I have discovered …

BLT Fish Shack

21 West 17th Street

New York, NY

Dining Companion: Cesc Fabregas

Where’s the beef? Is the first thought that crosses my mind when it comes to the BLT lobster roll.  This dish seemed to be more about the old bay seasoning on the fries and the soft, flaky bread than the lobster itself.  The menu claims to deliver selections straight from a Maine fish shack menu but while the all of the recognizable items were listed there and the ambience is that of a true fish shack, I felt it failed to deliver what my view of fish shack food should really be.  I feel true fish shacks are about the fish itself and not supposed to be refined versions of it.  Sometimes I feel that the higher end NYC restaurants and chefs are afraid to offend the delicate palettes of New Yorkers with an overly meaty, raw, un-pretty dish. If you want to be refined, be refined – don’t hide behind the mask of something completely different.  While the lobster salad itself from this roll was very delicate and flavorful, it just left you wondering why you were paying $26 for it when there was just so little.

The Mermaid Oyster Bar

79 MacDougal Street

New York, NY

Dining Companion: Banana Pancake

I went here back in June specifically for the lobster roll as I have heard great things.  This lobster roll was also light and flavorful but in my mind very untraditional.  The brioche roll was round like a hamburger bun roll and the lobster meat was diced like any other vegetable so that it was the same size as all of the other ingredients in the roll.  I am definitely someone who likes order, organization and symmetry but not when it comes to lobster rolls.  I want the chunks of decadent, mouth-watering lobster meat to grab me by the shoulders and say I’m here!!! I’m present!!!  Overall this was a graceful, non-offensive lobster roll that was meant to be served at an upscale NYC restaurant.  The accompaniment with the crispy, old bay fries is always the perfect pairing – a little tang, a little spice, a little salt … All of the other dishes we tried here were better than the lobster roll so I would definitely return but indulge in other fish forward dishes.

Clam Bar

Gosman’s Dock

500 West Lake Drive

Montauk, NY

Dining Companion: Banana Pancake

So now it is July and summer has finally kicked in.  Sandy beach, salty breeze, fresh circulating air, the invigorating scents of the barbeque and yes – lobster rolls.  I took a little tour this year out east in the Hamptons and came across some definite winners and losers.  Now I know Gosman’s is a touristy place to go if you are in the Montauk area but infrequent visitors to this area want to head there for the harbor feel – the gentle cawing of the seagulls, lapping water against the wood pilings and relaxing breeze coming in off the water.  This was my first venture into the lobster roll project out east and it was a decent start.  Nothing spectacular but I was pleased to see the MEAT – finally something to sink your teeth into away from a big piece of bread.  This had all of the makings of something delectable at the onset of appearance but upon actual taste, it lacked – well flavor.  I felt like I was eating potentially canned lobster meat – not fresh meat and just feel it lacked some extra seasonings to bring it to the next level.

Clam Bar

2025 Montauk Highway / Route 27

Amagansett, NY

Dining Companion: Solo

Now this place truly delivered.  While it looks similar to the previous one, this Clam Bar is not to be confused with Gosman’s Clam Bar.  This lobster roll wanted to accentuate both lobster and celery.  While some may not favor a strong celery flavor, I rather enjoyed it and the great balance of seasoning played up the freshness of the lobster meat. I think I inhaled this one in about four bites flat with very little overflow.

Gosman’s Bar

Gosman’s Dock

500 West Lake Drive

Montauk, NY

Dining Companions: Cookie Monster Family

Again nothing to write home about.  This was mediocrity at its finest.  The bread a bit stale and tasteless while the lobster salad was a bit too creamy and the lack of anything extra to make the lobster stand out just brought out a sigh of disappointment in my mind.

The Fish Farm

429 Cranberry Hole Road

Amagansett, NY

Dining Companions:  Papa Cookie Monster

Watch out Pearl’s – this one has you beat.  I seriously don’t know who is working the magic in the Fish Farm kitchen but they have not done me any wrong thus far.  This is a lobster roll at its best.  Toasted, buttery potato roll with oversized chunks of soft, succulent lobster deliciousness mixed in with crunchy bursts of celery, a squeeze of  lemon and a light dressing of mayo. Voila – you have summer’s finest treat, snack, meal – whatever you want to call it.  If you are out in the Hamptons and are looking for a little piece of heaven to dance across your tongue, get in the car and drive to Fish Farm immediately (also heed Hungry Korean’s prior review and take it to go!).

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