HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Best place to buy whole lobsters. East Bay and coast.

  • 38
  • Share

Looking to buy whole fresh lobsters in East Bay, but will travel to Marin if fresh off the boat is the best to be had.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Since you mention "fresh off the boat", are you looking for Pacific lobsters?

    If live New England lobsters fill the bill, this rec for Ranch 99 might be helpful.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/851216

    8 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Can you please tell me how Ranch 99 sells lobsters for $5.99-9.99?? Is it because they are so big?
      Do you find the larger lobsters have more or less flavor than your typical 1 1/2 lb'er?

      1. re: MSK

        Just bought a 3 pounder. There was less meat than I expected so that it was a soft shell or a too long in the tank lobster.

        1. re: wolfe

          We bought 2 x 3 lb'ers. There was substantial meat and our shells were so hard, a cracker would not suffice. We had to use a mallet!
          Can't tell if the meat was tougher tho

          1. re: MSK

            My shrinkage was very noticable in the claws.

            1. re: MSK

              Had a 3 pounder from the Richmond location last weekend, it was definitely not a soft shell and very good. ($8.99/lb)

            2. re: wolfe

              I have never seen such a large lobster with a soft shell.

            3. re: MSK

              High volume, low margins.

              1. re: MSK

                Also, there's currently a glut, with record low wholesale prices:

                http://www.sunjournal.com/news/maine/...

            4. I believe local spiny lobster is out of season.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Also out of location. They start happening in SOCAL and then on south. You won't get them fresh off the boat in the Bay Area.

                1. re: Sharuf

                  Somebody started a topic about spiny lobsters: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/858880

              2. Monterey Fish gets them but call ahead to be sure. Almost all of the Asian markets with tanks will have live.

                25 Replies
                1. re: rubadubgdub

                  I have heard good things about Monerey Fish. How does one go about choosing a good lobster? I read about size, can it be small and still been too long in the tank? What affects flavor? I bought one at Whole Foods several years ago and the flavor was nothing like I remembered from my previous experience, which was probably sometime in the 80's.
                  This is a bucket list item so price is not a consideration, just a taste experience I want to revisit.
                  Thanks for help.

                  1. re: anticheryl

                    Any size lobster can have been living in tanks too long. Buying from a first-rate supplier like Monterey Fish or Tokyo Fish is a good way to ensure quality.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      One can try to find out what day of the week the lobster delivery comes in. And then only buy when the tank is full. Skip the stragglers at the bottom that have been hanging around too long.

                      I've seen New England Lobster Co's truck at Richmond's Ranch 99, presumably delivering lobsters.
                      http://newenglandlobster.net/

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Thanks Melanie, Great advice! Will do.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Interesting and a good idea (I'll have to check if they also deliver to my local 99). What I don't understand is why it is cheaper to buy from 99 than directly from NELC

                          1. re: estnet

                            On reflection, it could be a different company. I remember a white van, lobster logo and lobster in the name. It also delivered to Daimo and Saigon Seafood restaurants in the same neighborhood.
                            http://nelobster.net/

                            1. re: estnet

                              Wholesalers with retail outlets often keep their markups relatively high to avoid competing with their retail customers.

                        2. re: anticheryl

                          Then you'll definitely want to buy from Monterey Fish instead of the other places. Their seafood is tops. I always try to buy 1.5 - 2 lbs if possible simply because there's more meat. 1.25 lbs minimum. I only buy 1 lbers if there is a special deal but it's a moot point here because supply is so low. Do ask if they are soft or hard shell. The flavor and texture are different when they are molting (soft). Most people prefer hard shell although soft shell is usually a bargain so it can be worth your while and is still tasty.

                          From what I've read, location can influence flavor aka what the lobster eats and water temps. Out West, you don't have any ability to control these factors, so just go with the place where you think they'll be freshest (highest turnover, best suppliers, etc.)

                          1. re: rubadubgdub

                            I think when Monterey's are getting close to having been in the tank too long they sell them off cheap to wholesale customers for making stock, bisque, etc.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Thanks you two... how much longer do I have, I mean the season, and I am leaning towards broiling the tail, what do you each think is the best butter?

                              1. re: anticheryl

                                I prefer steamed to any other cooking method unless some skilled chef is doing it. Maine lobsters are available all year but prices should be exceptionally good right now due to the glut.

                                1. re: anticheryl

                                  There is no such thing as a lobster season out here as they are shipped from the east coast & Canada depending on where they are in season at the time. Having most of my family from Nova Scotia, the preferred cooking method is boiled in sea water and eaten with melted or drawn butter.

                                  When picking your lobster you should gently squeeze the side. Soft shells indicate the lobster is molting and will not have much meat for its size.

                                  1. re: Civil Bear

                                    Thanks to you too CB, hope bay water will do. I'm just going to trust in the people who work at Monterey Fish to pick me out a nice one, cook it in bay water and eat with clarified butter.
                                    Any one have any favorite sides to offer, corn on the cob of course, and?

                                    1. re: anticheryl

                                      Don't cook it in bay water. That stuff's polluted.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Ah ha! Just as I suspected! Shit, is nothing safe anymore? But wait... how come the bay is still polluted, if BP can clean up the whole damn gulf, why can't they and we clean up a little bay?
                                        Yes I admit to being somewhat naive, but I plead LA ism, born and bred in that glorious land of la la. "What me worry?" Maybe I've been watching too much PBS.
                                        Thanks for the warning.

                                        1. re: anticheryl

                                          Unfortunately, SF Bay pollution conttinues on an ongoing basis from a multitude of sources -- street gutters, sewage treatment overruns, creeks and rivers, etc -- everything that drains to the ocean. It's not a one-time blow- out.

                                          1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                            Thanks Stephanie, and maybe I shouldn't parade my angst in this kind of forum, probably be a better place to come to if we just keep it about how much we all love good food.

                                      2. re: anticheryl

                                        Steamed artichokes are a good side dish. Similar labor-intensive messy dish. Good with the same condiments (melted butter / aioli).

                                        1. re: anticheryl

                                          Why go half way?
                                          http://downeastcooking.com/2010/07/ma...

                                        2. re: Civil Bear

                                          LOL, when my fam gets together for a lobster feed there generally are no sides except for maybe loaf of french bread and some Canadian lager! Corn sounds good though...

                                          ...and I agree with RL, if you are considering using SF Bay water I would advise against it. Just add plenty of sea salt to you pot and you will be fine!

                                          1. re: Civil Bear

                                            All I can say to you and wolfe is please invite me to your next lobster/clam/etc. feast. I live alone and have a small family that are spread all over. A pound and a half lobster will feed me a couple of times. But boy am I going to enjoy it!
                                            Oh and... we are talking boiling and steaming two different methods of cooking. I have a pot big enough to boil one, but my little steamer wont hold even a small lobster especially one that is squirming and flailing it's little claws. Oh well, I'll figure out something, I'm still leaning toward broiling.

                                            1. re: anticheryl

                                              " the best and fastest way to kill a lobster is to slice its head in half length wise" then steam.

                                              1. re: wolfe

                                                If you might be squeamish about cutting a live lobster in half, I highly recommend parboiling (until it stops moving) before you split it and broil.

                                                1. re: rubadubgdub

                                                  Just a knife to the head not the whole lobster. Even a girl(aside to wife just kidding dear) can do it.
                                                  http://www.finecooking.com/item/11058...

                                                  1. re: wolfe

                                                    Not too excited about eating anything from the ocean right now, wish I were not so curious. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/17/wor...
                                                    Thanks for all the help, you are a nice bunch of people, and give lie to all the negativity about the internet. I will return.