50E Stanley Street
Tel 3565 6725
Cuisine: Lobster rolls
Vibe: Hipster. This skinny, brightly lit space with white-painted brick walls and tall bar stools down one side wouldn’t feel out of place in Brooklyn or Sai Ying Pun. Stanley Street is definitely becoming more hip, so this isn’t just filled with office workers, but young free spirits, too.
The open kitchen is a nice touch - watching staff put food together is always fun, but you probably wouldn’t want to linger long after you’ve eaten. There just isn’t the space to chill.
Who to take: People from the US city of Boston who miss this New England classic, or sandwich lovers looking for a sarnie with a twist. Also, you should only invite guests who can be patient - it can get crowded at weekend lunchtimes, and you might have to queue outside for your roll fix.
What’s hot: It’s getting more common in Hong Kong for eateries to focus on just a couple of items – hot dogs, burgers, bao and salad joints have all done well – and do them really well. That formula has worked well here – perhaps worked even better than in many cases, as they’ve taken a relatively little-known dish, kept the menu short, and really focused on serving a quality product.
There is a choice of three rolls: lobster, crab and shrimp. All three feature a soft roll topped with huge pile of tender shellfish, which in turn is slathered in a rich, buttery sauce, and finished with a good grinding of black pepper. They’re a bit tricky to eat, as they’re really filled to spilling point, but this isn’t a complaint! It’s slightly surprising that the shellfish is served cold, but once you get over the surprise, it’s a delicious set-up.
The slaw is a lighter version of what you might expect, with a vinaigrette rather than a thick, creamy sauce, which better cuts through the natural oiliness of the shellfish.
Definitely check out the sweet potato fries, as long as you’re not on a date - they’re crisp-edged and full of flavour, and served with an intensely garlicky aioli which is good enough to eat by the spoonful.
What’s not: The prices. While Lobster Central offers a fairly unusual dish (in Hong Kong), it’s not really the sort of thing you could eat regularly. This is essentially a slightly smarter version of a sandwich shop, but sandwiches aren’t usually meant to be saved for a special treat.
And while this isn’t the sort of place you’d sit for hours and hours to catch up with your besties, it would still be nice if the seating arrangement were a little more practical: it’s not easy to have a conversation either facing a wall or turning your head awkwardly to the side the whole time.
Cost: Lobster rolls are HK$138, crab rolls are HK$118 and the shrimp variety are
HK$88. Sides are HK$22-HK$78 for four crab claws. There are also meal sets from HK$95 for soup and half a shrimp roll, to HK$488 for a sharing platter of all the rolls, sides and two soft drinks.