Saturday, February 25, 2012

Taste of Maine at Luke's Lobster

I've always been more of a crab fan myself. Whether it's the roasted garlic crab at PPQ in San Francisco, the Indonesian crab at Fatty Crab, or the blue crab in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay, I've always been more partial to crab than lobster. But having been invited to Luke's Lobster by almost every one of my LA friends who swing by town, I knew I had to finally try it out.


You'll find multiple locations in Manhattan for Luke's Lobster. They're fairly spaced out on the island and most offer delivery too. Each restaurant's decor is simple, kitschy and casual, conveying Northeastern seafood shack.

Lobster rolls are expensive anywhere, but Luke's does provide a hearty amount on each roll. It takes 5-6 lobster calls for the meat of one roll. Luke's has a reputation for sourcing their lobster directly from sustainable fisheries in Maine. Seeing as how this was my birthday dinner, I had to order the Noah's Ark and split it with my friend. Two 1/2 lobster rolls, two 1/2 crab rolls, two 1/2 shrimp rolls, four crab claws, two drinks, and two bags of chips, the feast is pictured above.

Luke's does make an excellent lobster roll. The dominant flavor is lobster, not mayonnaise or butter. As good as its namesake is, I still preferred the crab roll. The shrimp was boring, merely a shrimp cocktail on a loaf. I got a sarsaparilla with my meal, a happy find considering how difficult it is to find.

Luke's Lobster
Multiple locations in East Village, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Financial District, and Penn Quarter.
$15 for just the lobster roll. $41 for the Noah's Ark pictured above.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thai Boat Noodles at Sanamluang

I made sure to indulge in some of my favorite foods during my vacation back in California for the holidays. But I also made an effort to try out some things that I've heard so much about on the Twittersphere but don't have access to out in New York. Among those things are good fish tacos. Yet, the hands down best thing I ate was a bowl of Thai boat noodles. I had heard so much about boat noodles, and the lack of authentic boat noodles in New York made the experience in Los Angeles that much more special.


Although most people flock to the two heavyweights of the Thai boat noodle community in North Hollywood's Thai Town, Pa Ord and Sapp, I had my noodles at Sanamluang Cafe. It was only days after the New Year and many places were closed for the holidays. Sanamluang, with its 4 am daily closing time, was perfect for meeting up some of my familiar food friends @olivejina, @djjewelz, @limer35 @kungfoodpanda, and @ravenouscouple. The restaurant is in a small shopping center with a parking lot that easily gets overwhelmed.

While it's not difficult to find a bowl of beef noodle soup at Thai restaurants all over the country, it's tough to find one made with all the offal that truly makes a great bowl of boat noodles. Thai food in America is so generic and the flavors are simplified to the point of easy replication at any pan-Asian fusion eatery. The name comes from the common serving style in Thailand, when vendors sell noodles directly out of their boats. The secret to a great bowl is the abundant use of pork blood, liver, and other cuts of beef. Though it's listed as spicy beef noodles on the menu at Sanamluang, you can also order it as boat noodles. They'll know what you're talking about.

I've commonly heard of Thai boat noodles as pho on crack. It is the most flavorful bowl of noodles I've ever come across. Savory and sour are the main components, but a healthy amount of spice gives it a kick. Cinnamon and star anise are the key elements. However, the most memorable aspect of the noodles is the outstanding mouthfeel of the soup.

If anyone knows where I can get a great bowl of Thai boat noodles in New York, please let me know!

Sanamluang Cafe
5176 Hollywood Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 90027
(323) 660-8006
$5.95 for a bowl of "Spicy Beef Noodles"