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

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anticheryl Jul 12, 2012 02:06 PM

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. Melanie Wong Jul 12, 2012 02:09 PM

    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
      MSK Jul 12, 2012 02:57 PM

      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
        wolfe Jul 12, 2012 03:17 PM

        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
          MSK Jul 12, 2012 03:21 PM

          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
            wolfe Jul 12, 2012 03:37 PM

            My shrinkage was very noticable in the claws.

            1. re: MSK
              Scrapironchef Jul 14, 2012 11:44 AM

              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
              chefj Jul 12, 2012 04:06 PM

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

            3. re: MSK
              Melanie Wong Jul 12, 2012 03:51 PM

              High volume, low margins.

              1. re: MSK
                Robert Lauriston Jul 12, 2012 04:13 PM

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

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

            4. Robert Lauriston Jul 12, 2012 02:44 PM

              I believe local spiny lobster is out of season.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                s
                Sharuf Jul 18, 2012 12:19 PM

                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
                  Robert Lauriston Jul 18, 2012 12:25 PM

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

              2. r
                rubadubgdub Jul 12, 2012 02:55 PM

                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
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                  anticheryl Jul 13, 2012 12:39 PM

                  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
                    Robert Lauriston Jul 13, 2012 12:43 PM

                    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
                      Melanie Wong Jul 15, 2012 05:14 PM

                      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
                        a
                        anticheryl Jul 15, 2012 07:09 PM

                        Thanks Melanie, Great advice! Will do.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          e
                          estnet Jul 15, 2012 10:41 PM

                          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
                            Melanie Wong Jul 16, 2012 02:59 AM

                            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
                              Robert Lauriston Jul 16, 2012 08:34 AM

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

                        2. re: anticheryl
                          r
                          rubadubgdub Jul 13, 2012 12:48 PM

                          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
                            Robert Lauriston Jul 13, 2012 01:30 PM

                            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
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                              anticheryl Jul 13, 2012 08:06 PM

                              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
                                Robert Lauriston Jul 14, 2012 11:05 AM

                                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
                                  Civil Bear Jul 14, 2012 10:32 PM

                                  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
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                                    anticheryl Jul 15, 2012 07:05 PM

                                    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
                                      Robert Lauriston Jul 16, 2012 08:35 AM

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

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
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                                        anticheryl Jul 17, 2012 09:12 PM

                                        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
                                          Stephanie Wong Jul 19, 2012 06:36 AM

                                          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
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                                            anticheryl Jul 19, 2012 09:28 AM

                                            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
                                        Robert Lauriston Jul 16, 2012 12:47 PM

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

                                        1. re: anticheryl
                                          wolfe Jul 16, 2012 01:48 PM

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

                                        2. re: Civil Bear
                                          Civil Bear Jul 16, 2012 12:34 PM

                                          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
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                                            anticheryl Jul 17, 2012 09:30 PM

                                            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
                                              wolfe Jul 18, 2012 07:00 AM

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

                                              1. re: wolfe
                                                r
                                                rubadubgdub Jul 18, 2012 01:02 PM

                                                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
                                                  wolfe Jul 18, 2012 02:15 PM

                                                  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
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                                                    anticheryl Jul 18, 2012 07:44 PM

                                                    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.

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