Livin’ for the Lobster Crawl

Columns Ono, You Know

September 8, 2013

Story By: Alana Folen |

If the opportunity presents itself, I’ll travel to Maine in a heartbeat, all for the love of lobster. Now, let me explain: My affection for this crustacean (from a food enthusiast standpoint) is deeper than the New England waters where some of these critters tread. Once you break through the lobster shell, it’s as if you struck gold with the amount of sweet and sumptuous meat waiting to be devoured. Dip that meat in melted butter, and boy, oh boy, it simply doesn’t get any better than that!

And while a trip to the East Coast isn’t on my radar anytime soon, I intend to get my lobster fix stat, right here at home. So, this week, I took part in a lobster crawl around town, ready to dig in with no restraint. Here at the following Ono, You Know establishments, these lobsters are on point — each meaty chunk of crustacean better than the last.

King’s Shabu Shabu

Shabu shabu and Cajun-style dining are among the hottest trends on Oahu’s dining scene recently, and King’s Shabu Shabu located on the corner of McCully and Young streets, brings these two together for the mother lode of feasts.

With ample free parking, this 154-seat restaurant boasts a variety of fresh seafood selections, in which lobster reigns supreme. The best-seller among the savory shabu shabu and Cajun-style options is House Special Cajun Combo No. 1. Priced at $48, this combo easily can feed two to four people and includes a 1 1/4 pound whole Maine lobster, crawfish, mussels, shrimp and clams.

I prefer to take part in this seafood spread Cajun-style, in which the crustaceans swim in the restaurant’s special Cajun sauce that’s presented at your desired level of heat: mild, medium and volcanic. In my opinion, the hotter the better — so, of course, volcanic is the only way to go when you want to set your taste buds on fire. My advice: Leave your table manners at the door and get messy. It’ll up the ono factor, for sure!

But for those who appreciate a more-conservative dining approach, the shabu shabu option allows your dinner party to cook to their heart’s content via a tabletop hot pot. The most popular soup bases are Thai Tom Yum, Pork Bone and Seafood, to name a few.

“The lobster really enhances the flavor of the broth,” says restaurant manager Jonathan Tang. “We make it a point to serve live seafood rather than frozen seafood for obvious reasons: The meat is a lot more tender and sweet. You’ll notice the difference right away.”

King’s Shabu Shabu also gives diners the opportunity to reel in fresh lobster bathed in a sumptuous garlic butter sauce. Now this, my friends, is what I call one of the most beautiful things on earth — no exaggeration. Chefs will also be happy to slice up your lobster and other live seafood sashimi-style, if so desired.

Do you live for lobster? Yes? Then, secure your spot for dinner — reservations are highly recommended.

King’s Shabu Shabu
1110 McCully St.

HASR Bistro

When a restaurant’s name is HASR, an acronym for “Highly Allocated Spoiled Rotten,” it will awake your curiosity to dig deeper and get a feel for what the eatery is all about. Nestled in downtown Honolulu is a charming establishment that’s perfected the art of country-style European-American fare.

A wine purveyor and restaurateur, Terry Kakazu co-owns HASR Bistro along with executive chef Rodney Uyehara.

“I was told I was spoiled rotten because of all the highly allocated wines I’m able to obtain, and that’s how the name HASR Bistro came to be,” Kakazu says with a laugh.

Dine in the lap of casual luxury in the restaurant’s indoor dining room, bar area or at an outdoor table in the pet-friendly courtyard, and revel in stellar entrees, such as Beef & Reef ($34), which features 5 to 6 ounces of Harris Ranch mignon of beef, Oregon morels and butter-poached lobster tail served with broccolini and mashed potatoes infused with the perfect amount of butter and cream.

“For those who would like all reef or all beef, we can easily cater to them, preparing two orders of lobster or beef,” explains Uyehara, who praises the succulent lobster tail.

“The warm water lobster tail is from Brazil. It’s seared and demi-glazed with white wine. Then, we add chicken stock and butter.”

Yum! Lobster tail and loads of butter are a match made in heaven. And although the lobster tail is immaculate as is, the buttery liquid gold will add a hint of savory to the sweet.

Now, that’s what I call fine dining.

HASR Bistro
31 N. Pauahi St.

Ocean House

Paradise awaits at Ocean House in Outrigger Reef Hotel in Waikiki where patrons partake in exceptional cuisine amid ocean-front views and the calming lull of waves washing ashore. This plantation-style restaurant is a home away from home, and the only way to kick off an incredible dinner is with a top-notch appetizer.

Enter Coconut Lobster Skewers.

Priced at $14.50, four luscious lobster skewers are beautifully plated on a wedge of Maui Gold Pineapple, as slipper lobster tail is coated in a coconut breading and flash-fried.

“The lobster tail is brought in fresh daily, so the meat is very sweet and tender,” says general manager David Nagaishi.

A sweet chili lime dipping sauce complements the skewers. And as the sauce soaks into the lobster meat — boom! — you’ll be hit with an immediate wow factor. These are better than any skewers cooked on the grill at a summer barbecue.

Ocean House
Outrigger Reef Hotel
2169 Kalia Road

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best