Tucked into a corner at the top of a wooden staircase in Itaewon is Lobster Bar, a tiny and welcoming little refuge for those craving the comforts of the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you’re looking for succulent chunks of pink claw on a bun or an entire animal to crack open and mine through, few places in town serve lobster so proudly low-key.
It’s a new operation with just four dining options at the moment: whole grilled lobster (47,000 won), lobster grilled cheese (17,000) and Maine or Connecticut lobster rolls (17,000). For those without a budget for casual lobster consumption, the most affordable, yet traditional options on the menu are the lobster rolls: open-faced sandwiches that come on a bed of lettuce and a soft bun, with the lobster meat piled high on top. The Maine lobster roll is cold and served with mayonnaise, while the Connecticut is warm and served with butter. Both come with salad, pasta salad and shoelace French fries, and for those who prefer to skip the bread, they’ll serve the entire meal in salad form.
We ordered the Maine and Connecticut rolls, and both were superb. The Maine roll’s accompanying sauce was not overpowering (a frequent problem with mayo-based seafood dishes) and it was topped with chives and Old Bay seasoning. The Connecticut roll was warm but not hot, the butter melted and delicious. The meat was succulent and came from the claw — the best part of the creature — and it was very well prepared. The generous serving was moist and tasty, with no bits of shell buried inside. The lettuce was crisp and kept to a minimum, rather than piled on like in many Korean sandwiches, and the rolls’ freshness was complemented by the awesome, crunchy texture of the shoestring fries. The salad, too, was nice, free of iceberg lettuce and sprinkled with a balsamic vinaigrette (not the sweet balsamic syrup some restaurants serve instead). There was also a small serving of penne pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, a lemon for squeezing over the main course and even a proper dill pickle.
Lobster Bar serves a range of signature cocktails too, for anyone who’s still got room. There’s a lobster island iced tea, a twist on the classic Long Island, and a spiced tropical punch, which includes ginger and spicy black currant. We had the honey ginger beer, a mix of draft Cass, club soda, ginger and Manuka honey; it was delicious, with very mellow flavors — definitely the best thing to ever come out of a Cass tap. They also have canned L&P, a lemony soda from New Zealand not normally available in Korea. Otherwise, there’s red and white wine, draft Cass and the usual bottled beers.
Chris Kwon, the head lobster in charge, has built a tank and filled it to the brim with 900 to 1200 gram Canadian crustaceans — you can choose which one goes on your plate, which, for Korea, is quite a novelty. There’s no doubt Lobster Bar is the place to go for fresh Atlantic lobster, and I can’t wait to go back.
Itaewon Station, exit 3. Walk toward the Cheil Building. Go up the wooden stairs on the right, just across from On the Border. Lobster Bar is on the left.