June 15 is National Lobster Day, a holiday that purports to celebrate the sturdy crustacean in all its exoskeletal glory. While food holidays usually lead us into a blind rage, lobster lends itself to enough varied preparations so as to keep things interesting. Chilled, grilled, or simply steamed, when it’s cooked right, lobster earns its status as one of the most luxurious aquatic proteins. Here are five great lobster dishes in NYC perfect for honoring that diva of the briny deep:
5. Half lobster pibil at Cosme (35 East 21st Street; 212-913-9659)
At Enrique Olvera’s buzzy progressive Mexican restaurant, several dishes have emerged as “must-orders,” including flabby duck carnitas and that most Instagrammable of desserts, the corn husk meringue. Another often overlooked plate that’s been on the menu at Cosme since day one is the half lobster pibil. The kitchen plunks down chunks of slow-roasted claw and tail meat into a puddle of black-bean chorizo purée, ruddy with ground avocado leaf, resulting in a playful combination of oceanic sweetness and deep, earthy flavors.
4. Lobster rolls at Red Hook Lobster Pound (284 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn; 718-858-7650; 16 Extra Place, 212-777-7225)
Of the many lobster rolls available in this crustacean-mad town, the bulging specimens at Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich’s Red Hook sea shanty (back and better than ever in its renovated digs) take the cake for their succulent hunks of lobster meat dressed with either mayonnaise (Maine-style) or butter (Connecticut-style.) Extra points for the buttered, top-split hot dog bun, which allows for easy eating.
3. Lobster Catalan at Santina (820 Washington Street; 212-254-3000)
Mario Carbone takes the lead at this snazzy, jazzy coastal Italian restaurant set inside a glass box underneath the High Line. His menu’s full of light and playful dishes (like flat chickpea pancakes and the massive, decorative vegetable crudité), but the lobster — halved, grilled, and served in the shell in a sauce made from sea urchin and lobster coral — makes for one of the restaurant’s more substantial offerings.
2. Lobster dumpling kao soy at Ngam (99 Third Avenue; 212-777-8424)
At this modern Thai restaurant, chef Hong Thaimee is constantly tinkering with traditional recipes. Her version of kao soy, the aromatic curry noodle soup popular in northern Thailand, melds yellow curry with hand-rolled egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, lobster dumplings, and a Maine lobster tail in the shell. The maritime tweaks turn this already heady stew into something deeper and more aquatically funky. Cut open the ravioli-like dumplings to find tender chopped meat, perfect for soaking up the broth.
1. Seafood Hot Pot at Sik Gaek (49-11 Roosevelt Avenue, Queens; 718-205-4555)
Tucked under the 7 train in Woodside, this bustling Korean tavern boasts a repertoire of adventurous eats for the would-be Bourdain crowd. Skip the wriggling live octopus; instead, go for a multifaceted seafood hot pot. The giant cauldron arrives at the table bursting with the ocean’s bounty and crowned with a split live lobster, which cooks in the broth while you eat around its mortal coil.