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Makiki Eats: Lobster King


Goodness gracious, how time keeps a’ flyin’, as it seems just yesterday I said, “Today we celebrate another birthday for she or he at this place or that.” Yet indeed it is, as here I am saying that today we celebrate another birthday; this time once again for Diner C, where on this occasion we check out Lobster King, located at the foot of Makiki, on the corner of King and Keeaumoku, a.k.a. “Koreamoku” Street.

Perhaps like some of you, how often I’ve driven past this place on my way home from work, always wondering what the deal was here with their screamin’ loud “$10.99 Lobster” window sign out front — as well as what the restaurant in general was all about — and now I finally got a chance to cure that curiosity.

Lobster King’s decor is moderately elegant in your typical Chinese restaurant appointments, where with, come to find out by our server, the owners are made up of a husband and wife team whom the Mrs. is Korean and Mr., Chinese.

That said, the cuisine featured on the menu here at Lobster King is predominantly Chinese in the Cantonese and Szechuan styles, while there’s also a twist of Japanese Shabu Shabu thrown in for good measure….

You’d think this window would display a live lobster tank, but NOOOO, it’s Roast Peking Duck..

In fact, there wasn’t a lobster tank to be found visible from anywhere within the dining area.

Not to fret, as after going over the menu with our server, she recommended for our party of four that, instead of each ordering a 1 lb. Lobster, we all share one massive three-pounder, noting that the larger lobster yields more net meat per pound than the individual 1-pounders, collectively. Hence essentially more bang-for-the-lobster-buck.

Demonstrating that, she brought out this MASSIVE live 3 lb. “catch”, which we all unanimously decided would soon become our lunch for the day…


A massive three-pound fresh live Lobster KING

We noticed that they like to “play” with their live lobsters here, encouraging the guests to hold it for photo ops, and overall going over the live lobster that they’ve chosen for you in a tangible, interactive way as part of the dining experience. Very cool. Well, not for the lobster, but for the diners. lol Actually, “not cool” for Diner A either, as when our server held up that massive three-pounder at our tableside, the lobster peed on him. Well not really urinated, but shot a stream of “lobster juice” from its mouth right on Diner A’s arm. Eee-uew. Ha-ha-ha!

Right now Mr. 3 Lb. Lobster’s probably thinking, “One more photo and I’m gonna’ pee on you too, Diner P”. lol

Speaking of cleanliness, the first dish to land on the table may look like some kind of dipping sauce, but it’s actually their house tea mixed with lemon juice, which is meant to wash your hands in after everyone’s done makin’ a crustacean-shelled mess of themselves….


Chinese Black Tea and Lemon Hand Wash (complimentary)

Right after that, the potable version of that, hot Chinese Black Tea arrives…


Chinese Black Tea (complimentary)

Sticking with the tried and true, first order to land on our table is the Honey-Walnut Stir-Fried Shrimp…


Stir-Fried Shrimp with Honey-Walnut. $14.95

Next, you know da’ rulez: gotta’ get rice…


Mixed Vegetable Fried Rice. $9.25

And of course, the star, da’ “King”..


Live Lobster with Black Bean Sauce. $14.95/lb. (3 lbs. total)

That’s the whole 3 lb. lobster, cut up into individual portion, somewhat “easy-to-eat” sections, where even the tail was cut into quarters (all with shell on).

Oyster Sauce Chicken over a bed of Cake Noodles….


Oyster Sauce Chicken on Cake Noodles. $10.50

There you see on this first-time visit, we pretty much went with what we’re all familiar with, not being adventurous in ordering any exotic-sounding temptations listed such as “Deep-Fried Pigeon”, “Goose Intestine”, “Steamed Frog”,  “Stir-Fried Sea Cucumber” or “Lady Clam”, or get a load of this one, “Jellyfish Pig Fore Shank BBQ Platter”. Whoah! Andrew Zimmern, we’ve found another restaurant for you if you happen to bring Bizarre Food here to Hawaii once again.

So how is it? Winnahz! Everything was fantastic, really.

Lobster King’s Honey-Walnut Shrimp was delicate and silky-light as ever, giving Little Village’s take on it a run for the money…

While I’m not exactly a chicken fan, preferring beef with my cake noodle, it was never-the-less super moist ‘n tender and deeply flavored with that savory oyster sauce “gravy” coating it. The uniquely “Pake Hawaiian” cake noodle bed the richly-coated chicken strips rested on was prepared just like it should, with a sort of crusty bottom, and a glutenous, integrated texture of the “eggy” chow mein noodle “meat” of it, all fully absorbed with the delicious “umamified” Oyster sauce gravy…

As for the Black Bean Lobster, “O.M.G.” AMAZING. Broke da’ mout’ winnah, winnah lobster dinner. Err, lunch that is. Black Bean sauce is certainly one of my favorite flavors offered in Chinese cuisine, where Guy Fieri’s famous, “I could eat that off a FLIP-FLOP!” tagline certainly applies here. You get that salty, earthy, robust, deep, meaty, “umami” flavor of the black bean sauce that coats the full-bodied, somewhat “fatty” flavor of the super moist ‘n succulent lobster meat, and KUNG-POWWW! BAMMM! Or whatever exclamation of your choice, Lobster King’s Black Bean Lobster simply ROCKS (chime in the B-52’s now).

Like most Chinese restaurants, Lobster King’s menu is so lengthy and extensive, that  you’d probably have to eat here at least once a week for an entire year or more in order to say you tried EVERYTHING on it. there’s certainly a few other dishes I’m eager to return here to try, such as the Live Garlic Abalone, Live Lobster Sashimi, as well as any preparation they have using Sea Cucumber and Jellyfish; the latter two of which I’ve never had before.

Service was friendly, attentive and quick, with our entire order landing on the table within ten minutes of being placed. Ambiance is clean, cozy and comfortable, with a quiet sound level, which I personally always appreciate. There’s ample parking right on the premises, which is also a major plus. Best of all, it’s a great value, especially for larger parties, making this a good choice for the office gang or the gang at home.

Based on our first-time experience – especially with the Black Bean Lobster — Lobster King is highly recommended.

Lobster King
1380 South King Street (on the Ewa-Mauka corner of “Koreamoku”)
Honolulu, HI 96814
Tel. (808) 944-8288
The Tasty Island rating:


(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Related links:
Crustacean (San Francisco ’11 – Part 8) – The Tasty Island
Fried Dace with Salted Black Beans – The Tasty Island
Lobster King – Yelp user reviews

P.S. Check out this 7.5 POUND, 3 FT. LONG LOBSTER reader KenW eMailed me!…

Ken, while the glass of wine and serving utensils are a good “in situ” touch to give it a sense of scale, it would have been great if you had a tape measure laid out so that we could see the size in cold hard fact numbers!

I’m surprised after it was cooked that it turned red, and not Incredible Hulk-colored GREEN! “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” lol

According to Ken, this 7.5 lb. 3 ft. long “LOBMONSTER” was their Friday night dinner one lucky (or frightful?) night back when he lived in New England.

That’s beast, man, totally beast.

16 thoughts on “Makiki Eats: Lobster King

  • February 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm
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    Pomai, as a born and raised New Englander that transplanted to Hawaii let me give you one bit of advice; I would have sent that lobster back because it was old. Lobsters held in a tank become cannibalistic and start eating on tank mate’s antennae. The longer held in a tank also lowers the quality of freshness and meat quality because the lobster is not active. When selecting a live lobster you want one that is active and has full antennas which signify it is freshly caught and has not spent extra-long time in a holding tank. You also want a hard shell which means it is full of meat as a soft shell is after the lobster has shed its shell and is full of water as it grows to adjust to new shell size. I used to bring home on Fridays for dinner 6 to 7 pound fresh caught lobsters (a little over 3 feet long). There is an B&B Inn back near where I used to live that provides for Valentine’s Day couples a 10 pound lobster for couples; a restaurant I visit when I return to New England only serves 3 ½ pound lobsters and for their anniversary I gave my mom and dad a 20 pound lobster once which took the whole oven when I baked it. If you handle a lobster wrong its flipping tail can sever your wrist artery maybe causing you to bleed to death. It takes a lobster 7 years to gain one pound in weight.

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  • February 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm
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    Ken, point taken, and interesting trivia about the cannibalistic antennae thing. However, how much more per pound would/could they charge for a lobster in such said premium-fresh condition? I take it Lobster King is all about live lobsters on a budget, not what to expect from a 5-Star restaurant. All-in-all, it was delicious, no one got sick, and it was relatively affordable. Perhaps the Black Bean sauce hid whatever freshness it lacked (the FLIP-FLOP reference), yet, heck, it worked for me.

    I can just imagine the family Thanksgiving Day feast, where everyone’s gathered around the usual 15 pound roast turkey sitting on the dinner table gettin’ ready to be carved, then in walks KenW with a crimson red, 7 pound, THREE-FEET LONG ROAST LOBSTER, all smothered in garlic butter. Talk about WOW FACTOR!

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    • February 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm
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      Pomai at my house I used to have wild turkeys in my yard all the time. I had a family roosting in my trees and sometime they would be on my upper lanai looking into my windows just like the wild deer that stayed on the ground looking into lower windows! I got plenty of photographs!! When I left New England for Hawaii a 6 to 7 pound fresh live kicking lobster with full antennae at my fish monger was $6 a pound in 2007. When I go back to visit the restaurant I eat at that serving only 3 ½ pound hard shell lobsters chargers around $48 +/- for the meal depending on local market price and these lobster come out with full antennae (in Rhode Island/Connecticut there are two full very large all-you-can-eat buffets that include 1 to 1 1/4 pound whole lobsters). I would say in Hawaii most people going to restaurants don’t know about lobsters and what to look for unless you come from New England where we ate lobster and sweet hard-shell Jonah crabs almost every week. The people hear the catch phrase Maine hard shell lobster and are hooked which if you really understand hard-shell lobsters come from all New England states and Canada!! Maine is trying to get a law that requires a special tag on the lobster to say it truly in fact came from Maine waters. I don’t know if you know but Hawaii has a “lobster Hotel” located at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) at the Kona Airport. Maine hard-shell lobster that are flown in and are allowed to rest and recuperate in tanks at the hotel before being shipped to restaurants, grocery stores and Asian markets. As a side note on history of lobsters, in the early old days in New England after a nor’easter storm the average size of a lobster that was washed up on shores was 5 pounds and prisoners in jail were fed lobster and rioted as they felt the lobster meal was belittling! The University of New Hampshire did a lobster study to find out how lobsters were trapped. They found lobsters freely entered and left the traps some standing guard over the bate fighting other lobsters off till they ate their fill and left. The conclusion was only the dumb lobsters that get into the traps, can’t find way out are the ones left when the traps are hauled up and collected!!

      Reply
    • February 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm
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      Pomai, I use to do this at least one Friday a month. I do have photos of a 6.5 pounder on the same 3ft. X 3ft. butcher block with a metal yard stick beside it stretched out and overhanging the edges plus I have photos of a 10 pound cooked giant lobster! I would steam them in my big New England steamer with seasoning and the meat was just tender sweet and juicy!! I got to find the photos to send to you! Da Bomb; Broke da mouth!

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      • February 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm
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        OK, 7 pounds, check. Now you’re talkin’ 10 POUNDS? WE MUST SEE THIS! BRING IT!

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    • February 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm
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      Pomai, it takes four 1 lb. hard-shell lobsters to make one pound of picked meat and it takes six one pound “shedders” (soft-shell) lobsters to reach one pound of picked meat and seven “cull” (lost one claw) lobsters to make one pound of picked meat plus soft –shell lobsters cook faster than hard-shell lobsters. Lobsters shed their shells once a year, usually in early summer.

      Reply
  • February 19, 2012 at 3:58 am
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    Pomai, glad you ordered the chicken with oyster sauce over noodle for since it person birthday noodle is long life and good luck . Every time we go out to Chinese restaurants to eat we order from set dinner meal and make some change to it. We change a few dishes still pay set meal price which not bad. As long the change dishes is same price as set meal price dishes.

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  • February 19, 2012 at 7:31 am
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    Pomai,
    Thanks for the new post was wondering where you was. Looked at the menu and got sticker shock. Surprised you didnt do a superbowl post. Ahhh….cake noodle another Hawaii thing cant find on the mainland.

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    • February 19, 2012 at 10:51 am
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      I think it called Hong Kong style pan fried noodle. In San Francisco that what they called it.

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  • February 19, 2012 at 8:28 pm
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    Without getting into the specifics of lobster care, I must say as a local boy, diving etc when a bit younger, I like my lobster tough and chewy. Like Ken. And so does my family. Tough means from the water, brought in alive or right on ice. Soft means we were out too long or sun came up. Tough and chewy has all the flavor, that is what the knife is for. BTW, the COSTCO lobster case is like perfect here. Not thawed, and as near as I can tell, frozen alive. Taste like ours on the beach fire. (But I boil the Slipper Lobster).

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  • March 3, 2012 at 7:10 am
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    When I lived in Hawaii we ate the Pacific Lobster, no front claws, are there new laws protecting them, or they still caught and eaten?

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  • March 23, 2012 at 8:01 am
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    More remodeling? We are waiting with baited breath for your next post!!! Mahalo.

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  • March 24, 2012 at 7:52 am
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    Pomai, How about a neighbor island index entry. I know it will mean duplicative indexing, but I say that is a small price to pay for finding an eatery on Molokai.

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  • March 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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    When will you change your next food adventure?

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  • August 10, 2015 at 2:49 am
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    mmmmmm… very yummy!!!!!!!

     

    Reply

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