Find Lobster Rolls at These 8 Honolulu Eateries
Don’t underestimate a pandemic—these shellfish indulgences are on a roll.
Within these United States, Hawai‘i is as far from Maine as you can get. And yet, like an inexorable tide, something has emerged that unites us as firmly as the grip of a crustacean’s crusher claw: our growing appetite for lobster rolls. It started as a weekend special at Earl sandwich shop. Then Jolene’s Market in Chinatown came out with one. And now, in the middle of a pandemic, lobster rolls are a micro trend in Honolulu. Here’s the claw-some lineup.
12th Ave Grill & DeliCafe
12th Ave Grill’s new deli has a 12th Ave B.L.T. and the L stands for lobster. This sandwich features nearly 4 ounces of butter-poached Kona Maine lobster with a relish of avocado, roasted tomato, basil and garlic on house-made bacon bread. Our server pre-cut our sandwich since our group of four all wanted to try it. This one looks more like a panini compared to the fluffier rolls below, but the savory medley—with meaty lobster chunks and especially that bacon bread—is to die for.
Chocolate + Vanilla Bakery
Savory Saturdays at Chocolate + Vanilla pair the Kaimukī bakery with other local businesses. The rotating menu has featured biscuits and gravy, tomato bisque, shrimp and crab rolls, and these $15 lobster rolls. All are made and sold at the bakery.
These lobster rolls come from JMR Food Concepts, owned by Jason Ramirez, a chef who does private catering. The chilled lobster salad is refreshing with onions, cilantro and secret spices, though the bakery won’t divulge how much goes in each roll.
Lobster rolls are usually available on Savory Saturdays, but check the bakery’s Instagram for updates.
Open Tuesday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 1115 12th Ave., (808) 737-2462, @chocolateandvanilla808
While the East Coast sandwich specialist sometimes has lobster rolls as a special at its Kaka‘ako locale—where it’s so popular that some weekends all 700 sell out—this weekend it’s selling them in Kaimukī. The $24 sandwich has 4.5 ounces of lobster, sauteed garlic, bacon and brown butter. It’s served with coleslaw, a pickle, lemon wedge and potato salad.
Open Monday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 1137 11th Ave., (808) 200-4354, @earlkakaako
The lobster roll at Foodland’s new Kāhala restaurant is a must-have. It’s made with 4 to 5 ounces of lobster claw and knuckle meat tossed with curry aioli and brown butter in a toasted bun. The lobster is treated simply, without much filler, and the curry aioli gives it an oomph.
Breakfast daily 6 to 11 a.m., lunch Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner daily 4 to 8 p.m., brunch Saturday and Sunday 6 to 11 a.m.; 4230 Wai’alae Ave., (808) 732-2440, @etalhawaii
Feast by Jon Matsubara
This $21 Maine lobster roll started as a weekly special at Feast and did so well it’s there pretty much every day now. Four ounces of chilled lobster meat are mixed with umami mayo and brushed with butter, then sprinkled with scallions, dill and Shinsato Farms Meyer lemon juice. It’s served on toasted King’s Hawaiian rolls and comes with shoestring fries. This is the closest thing I’ve had to the meaty lobster roll I devoured a few summers ago in Boston.
Jolene’s Market’s buttah lobster rolls swam onto the scene in summer 2019 with an Asian twist: They’re topped with Cajun sauce, lettuce, onions, carrots, butter, slaw, mayo—and lemongrass, garlic and cilantro. The $16 lobster roll weighs in with 5 ounces of Maine lobster meat from Chun’s Meat Market on King Street; the rolls are baked in-house.
Jolene’s Market followed up with lobster melts ($16) that feature meaty chunks with ooey, gooey melted mozzarella and cheddar.
Open Monday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; 100 N. Beretania St., (808) 540-1000, @jolenesmarkethnl
The Maine lobster roll from Livestock Tavern’s dinner menu is now served at its weekend brunch for $23: 3.5 ounces of lobster meat and green onions, celery and parsley all mixed with lemon aioli in a buttery, grilled, house-baked brioche bun. There’s also a $45 takeout lobster roll kit for two with lobster, brioche buns and side salads packaged separately; you’ll need to preorder these a day in advance.
Open Monday to Sunday 5 to 10 p.m., brunch Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 49 N. Hotel St., (808) 537-2577, @livestocktavern
The Espresso Bar at Neiman Marcus Hawai‘i
The menu at Espresso Bar at Neiman Marcus Hawai‘i features entrees like this $22 lobster salad sandwich served with potato chips. Four ounces of lobster claw and knuckle meat are seasoned with mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice and herbs and follow a Neiman Marcus recipe. It’s served in a buttery, flaky croissant baked in-house daily.
Open Monday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Sunday 12 to 3:30 p.m.; 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., (808) 951-3445