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A Lobster Love Story

Columns Ono, You Know

February 4, 2018

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Whenever I start craving lobster, I can’t help but reminisce about the first time I experienced an authentic, Maine-style home-cooked lobster feast. I remember it like it was yesterday: During college, I was fortunate enough to visit a friend’s hometown in The Pine Tree State, and we stayed in her family’s rustic cabin situated on the rocky Atlantic coastline, beside the frosty waters that are filled with some of the best lobster in the world.

My friend’s dad came home with live lobsters to steam, and when he invited me to help him cook them, let’s just say the ensuing scenario turned into something out of the famous lobster scene in Annie Hall — in other words, it didn’t go so smoothly! But when it came time to feast away, stuffing ourselves to no end with unbelievably fresh, plump, tender seafood was a piece of cake — in fact, we didn’t even need an ounce of seasoning or butter for this meat, it was that good.

Of course, I’m always on the prowl locally for a meal that can compare to my first lobster extravaganza, and I’ve finally found some dishes that give the original feast a run for its money:

WOLFGANG’S STEAKHOUSE

Now, while we’re still on the topic of lobster in Maine, we can’t exclude one of the most coveted lobster dishes to come out of this region: the “lobstah” roll. Up and down the New England coast, you’ll find food stands selling lobster-filled sandwiches with regional variations that have become a point of much competition. But let’s be honest — if you love lobster, they’re all going to be delicious.

And I’m here to tell you that luckily, you don’t have to travel all the way to the East Coast to sample a divine lobster roll. Within the past six months, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener in Waikiki has introduced a stellar one to its menu that’s been revving up the lunch hour for locals and tourists alike.

Wolfgang’s Lobster Roll ($29.95)

“The first day we put it on the menu, we sold 20! It was very popular right out of the gate,” says general manager Bill Nickerson, who explains that after the dish was successfully rolled out at Wolfgang’s four Japan locations, the company decided to give it a try in Hawaii.

The restaurant’s lobster roll is inspired by the classic, creamy-lobster-salad version of the dish, but it has some unique flair, too. True to the steak-house quality of all of Wolfgang’s dishes, this entree starts with a sweet-and-tender steamed whole young lobster. “What’s really great is that it’s fresh lobster, not frozen,” shares Nickerson.

As for the recipe, kitchen manager Jame Saavedra tells Ono, You Know that the seafood is chopped and mixed with salt, white pepper, and some lobster-roll staples: mayo, celery and chives. For that unique twist, the chef adds a hint of ginger vinaigrette, whose brightness can be enhanced with a citrusy squeeze of lemon upon serving.

The bun itself also is of significance, as the bread tends to be a topic of debate among lobster-roll fanatics. Though New England-style sliced hot dog buns are traditionally used, Wolfgang’s gives some pizazz to its version with a hearty onion roll. The bread is firm enough to hold up to the lobster salad, yet nice and soft to the bite.

Come in for this special during lunch hours, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, when it’s priced at $29.95.

GOLDEN PALACE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

For many of us, lobster is not something we eat every day, so when we do have it, we want to make a memorable meal out of it. Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant makes it easy peasy to do just that with its Dinner for Four ($38) or Six ($54), a customizable spread that is ideal for a homey meal out with the family.

Highlights from Golden Palace’s Dinner for Four with lobster ($38)

Customize your very own feast centered around a sizable lobster, flash-fried and cooked with the seasonings of your choice. The special meal for four or six come with soup of the day, choice of one lobster or crab, and selection of three or five additional entrees, respectively.

When you select lobster as your crustacean of choice, manager Gary Lam explains, “Our chefs chop up the lobster, so the meat is right there, and it’s easy for you to pick out. We actually cut the tail in half also, so the flavors soak in and it’s also easier to eat.” Guests may choose how they would like their lobster seasoned, with the most popular combos being black bean sauce, ginger and onion, or even salt and pepper.

And when I say you can customize this feast, I mean it. There are nearly 40 additional entrees to choose from, with plenty of meat, seafood and vegetable options. For a well-rounded meal, order the popular Salt & Pepper Pork Chops, Scallops with Mixed Vegetables, and Chicken Salad.

As for the soup of the day, when I recently stopped by, it was a most comforting mix of Chinese preserves, cabbage, carrots and pork, among other ingredients. “I guess you could say the soup is a comfort food, because it reminds you of what Mom would make at home,” says Lam.

In addition to enjoying this lobster-crowned dinner, plan to welcome the Year of the Dog with the family business, which is offering a special menu for the holiday priced at $219 and featuring Peking Duck with buns, Ginger & Onion Sea Bass, Jai and much more.

It’s also not too late to make a reservation at the eatery for the Chinatown new year celebrations Feb. 9-10, which will come alive with entertainment, activities and great food around the neighborhood. Lam points out that there will be lion dances, blessings from the 2018 Narcissus Queen and her court, and firecrackers on the 9th.

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