So we all know that Singapore is a food-crazy place, mamas. Passionate debates arise over who has the best chicken rice or chili crab, and people will stand in 45-minute queues just to get their favourite $3 hawker dish. Where I come from (New England), we feel the same way about our lobster rolls.
In the summertime it’s not uncommon to see a line of 50 people stretch down a Maine country road. Do you like yours with just butter, or do you add in mayonnaise and celery? Do you serve it on a traditional buttered hot dog roll, or get tricky with a hamburger bun or brioche? What’s the ratio of claw-to-tail meat, and how much is included? (If it’s not overflowing to the point you need a fork, don’t bother serving it to me!)
With all this in mind, you can understand my skepticism when a restaurant here touts its “New England-style lobster rolls”. Never mind the fact they cost three times as much (I understand it’s expensive to fly in the best and freshest seafood) – do chefs here on the other side of the world even know what they’re doing?
This is why I was so intrigued to check out Lobster Pince & Pints on trendy Duxton Road. They’re so confident in their product that the menu features just three items priced at a flat $48 apiece: lobster rolls, live whole lobster (choice of grilled or steamed), and, in a nod to the local crowd, chili lobster with fried mantou. (Happily the drinks menu is more substantial, and even features some fantastic beers from New England brewery Magic Hat).
Lobster Pince & Pints calls itself a “lobster shack,” but I’ve never come across a shack before with cosy red banquettes, stylish brick walls and a 5-page cocktail list (not that this is a bad thing!). Jazzy crooners like Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole on the stereo add to the mood; the night I visited, my Singaporean dining companion said he felt like he was in a 1950s American diner. Acoustics are lively, but not so loud you can’t hear your knowledgeable server expertly deliver the specials. In terms of ambience, it’s a fab spot for date night.
“But how is the lobster?!” the crustacean connoisseurs want to know. Delicious. I wasn’t quite transported to my hometown lobster pound, but they do the dish proud. I did in fact require a fork to grab the overflowing, succulent claw meat, and the doughy hot dog bun was buttered to a toasty perfection. Purists take note: the meat is coated in a fine daub of mayonnaise (with delicious herbed butter dipping sauce on the side), and there’s actually an accompanying salad to alleviate feelings of gluttony (requisite French fries thankfully cohabit the plate).
My dining companion enjoyed his grilled lobster – though he was a bit disappointed it had already been disassembled and didn’t require the traditional bib and claw crackers, which are part of the fun. Another in our group tried the Chili Lobster; she rated the heat it brought as properly Singaporean. She also gave the luscious mantou dippers two [butter-covered] thumbs up, though she wondered if using lobster instead of crab almost made the dish too rich. She vowed to come back and try the lobster roll, which she had eyed with envy.
Each dish uses a 600g lobster (that’s big!); the restaurant imports only from Atlantic Coast fisheries that use sustainable practices, and the lobsters are stored in a state-of-the-art facility once they touch down on our tropical shores. Standards are so exacting, in fact, that the restaurant proclaims “Only the best will make it to the table, anything less is kept as a pet”!
So if you’re hungry for a taste of the Eastern seaboard – or in the mood to splash out with a decadent lobster meal that offers quite good value for money in comparison to lots of other upmarket Western spots – hightail it to Duxton Road, mamas!
Lobster Pince & Pints
32-33 Duxton Road, Singapore 089496
Tel: (+65) 6225 7558
Open: Mon to Fri 5-11pm (dinner only), Sat 12-11pm (all-day dining including brunch), closed Sun
No reservations, it’s strictly walk-in only mamas!