“Cause I’m livin’ on things that excite me, be they pastries, or lobsters, or love…” — Jimmy Buffet

Originally an East Coaster, lobster rolls are part of my soul. I don’t think I appreciated them enough in my childhood. I was always more drawn to the shrimp and blue crabs we caught in cages off the docks. It’s only in adulthood that I have come to appreciate the simplicity and tastiness of the lobster roll: fresh lobster, butter & a golden, toasted roll. It’s now something I must eat anytime I visit my family back in New York in the summer months. When I heard there was an East Coast style lobster roll down in Chinatown at the newly opened Jolene’s Market, I knew I needed to check it out.

JOLENE'S MARKET

Hong Kong Cafe in Jolene's Market
Cold Ginger Chicken from Hong Kong Cafe

Located where Regal Bakery used to be in Chinatown, Jolene’s Market is a small, casual food hall with four different ‘stations.’ Hong Kong Cafe features authentic Hong Kong style Chinese plates. Folly is the bar and has a daily happy hour 4-7 [4-close Thursdays] with both food and beverage deals. Momo’s Desserts and Drinks fulfills your sweet tooth needs with Regal Bakery donuts and Dave’s ice cream, additionally selling coffee, tea, and smoothies. But I came for one thing and that was Da Buttah Lobstah.

Da Buttah Lobstah in Jolene's Market
Da Buttah Lobstah

Da Buttah Lobstah has only one thing on its menu right now and that’s the lobster roll every foodie on island is talking about. Served on a toasted and buttered roll for a mere $15, this lobster roll is jam-packed with fresh Maine lobster & topped with Cajun sauce, pickled veggies, slaw, fresh herbs, and a lemon slice. The sandwich screams East Coast vibes and had me daydreaming that I was back in New York. It’s served with corn chowder but real talk, it was just meh and not necessary.

Back to the star! The roll dripped buttery goodness with each bite. A huge pet peeve of mine in lobster rolls is filler; too much mayo, celery, etc. This lobster roll was the exact opposite, overflowing with what seemed like an entire lobster. I pulled out the claws & almost died of joy. The bread was toasted to perfection, a lovely combination of soft yet crunchy, and the perfect vehicle for the lobster. The lobster itself was incredibly fresh. It’s rare that I find any foods from back East out here that compare in the slightest. I’m a New Yorker at heart; don’t even ask me about pizza and bagels. This lobster roll though; it gave some of the ones I’ve grown up eating a run for their money. I could eat this bad boy once a week easily.

Claw meat from Da Buttah Lobstah in Jolene's Market
Claw meat from inside the lobster roll

Not a fan of seafood? I recently saw them post a new sausage roll on their Instagram [@Jolenesmarkethnl] and decided to try it out while I was there. Their spicy sausage roll [$11] has a grilled sausage on more of that buttery bread, topped with pickles, onions, cilantro, and drizzled with the same Cajun butter sauce as the lobster. Not overly spicy but with a slight kick that hits you as you eat, I found this roll a great alternative for non-shellfish eaters. Me though, I’m going to agree with Jimmy Buffet and stick with love and lobsters.

Spicy Sausage roll from Jolene’s Market
Spicy Sausage roll from Jolene’s Market

FINAL THOUGHTS

My lobster roll experience totally lived up to the hype. I look forward to their full menu being released as besides rolls they’ll be doing seafood boils with lobster tail, clams, snow crab, mussels, corn, potato, and sausage. Given how fresh my roll was, I can only imagine myself being shellfish and not wanting to share that either. [See what I did there?] Jolene’s is a bandwagon you want to jump on.

Jolene’s Market
100 N. Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
Parking in Chinatown Cultural Plaza
Ph: (808) 540-1000
Website


Brigitte Schell
Brigitte Schell

Brigitte’s been a foodie since birth; her palate has just vastly improved. Originally from New York, Yelp connected Brigitte with the local food community & she has been eating, writing & photographing her way through the island since. A little classy, always sassy; you can never forget-a Brigitte!

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