First there were blowout weekend specials at Earl Sandwich. 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.
Chocolate + Vanilla Bakery
Savory Saturdays at Chocolate + Vanilla pair the Kaimuki bakery with other local businesses. The rotating menu has featured biscuits and gravy, tomato bisque, shrimp and crab rolls, and these $15 lobster rolls. The dishes 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 wouldn't divulge how much goes in each roll.
Lobster rolls are usually available on Savory Saturdays, but check the bakery's Instagram for updates.
1115 12th Ave. • Kaimuki • 737-2462 • @chocolateandvanilla808 • Tues-Thurs 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri-Sat 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Kakaako sandwich shop sometimes features lobster rolls as a weekend special. It's become so popular that the last weekend of September, they made 700 of them; customers went wild on Instagram. The $24 roll has 4.5 ounces of lobster, sauteed garlic, bacon and brown butter. It's served with coleslaw, a pickle, lemon wedge and potato salad.
Heads up: Earl Kakaako tells me they'll be serving this special again around the last weekend of October. Check their Instagram for updates.
400 Keawe St. • Kakaako • 744-3370 • @earlkakaako • Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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. It’s the closest thing I’ve had to the meaty lobster roll I devoured a few summers ago in Boston.
2970 E. Manoa Rd. • Manoa • 840-0488 • Tues-Sat, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 4-6 p.m.
Jolene's Market's buttah lobster rolls swam onto the scene in summer 2019. These have 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. The photo above shows what the lobster rolls currently look like.
Jolene's Market followed up with lobster melts ($16) that feature meaty chunks with ooey, gooey melted mozzarella and cheddar.
Jolene's Market • 100 N. Beretania St. • Chinatown • 540-1000 • Mon 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tues-Sun 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
The Maine lobster roll from Livestock Tavern's dinner menu is now served at its new weekend brunch for $23: 3.5 ounces of lobster meat and green onions, celery and parsley all mixed with brown butter hollandaise in a buttery, grilled, house-baked brioche bun.
49 N. Hotel St. • Chinatown • 537-2577 • @livestocktavern • Mon-Sun, 5-10 p.m., brunch Sat-Sun 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Espresso Bar at Neiman Marcus Hawaii
The new menu at Espresso Bar at Neiman Marcus Hawaii, which recently reopened for dine-in service, features entrees like this $22 lobster salad sandwich served with potato chips. The 4 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 light, buttery, flaky croissant baked in-house daily.
1450 Ala Moana Blvd. • Ala Moana • 951-3445 • Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Sun 12-3:30 p.m.