September 24, 2020

First opened in New York City’s East Village in 2009, Luke’s Lobster channels Maine-style seafood and prides themselves on having a sustainable supply chain. Every lobster can be traced back to the fishermen who caught it, so one can expect seafood that is handpicked, flash-frozen and shipped directly from Eastern Canadian fisheries. With anticipation surrounding the popular seafood chain’s first outlet in Southeast Asia, there has been buzz as to whether the Singapore outpost will retain the same authenticity in both taste and appearance.

Located at Shaw Centre on Scotts Road, Luke’s Lobster is sleek and sanded down—highlighting a metropolitan nostalgia for fresh by-the-sea dining rather than embodying it. From the aesthetically appealing neon blue sign to multi-coloured buoys hanging from the side wall, the space seems incongruous amongst the Clinique and Kiehl’s product counters. And with only 17 seats available, the kitchen is housed in a wood veneer ‘shack,’ perched on the edge of the first floor.

The main feature at Luke’s Lobster is an assortment of three split-top buttery toasted rolls served in red diner-esque plastic baskets. You may not know what to tackle first: chilled crab, shrimp or lobster, the freshness of the ingredients being their defining quality. Seasoned with lemon butter, mayonnaise and oregano, the shredded crab is delicate and fluffy. Your eyes will naturally gravitate towards the lobster, with its full claw waving at you—and one bite is enough to bowl you over with its tenderness. Despite the shrimp having a certain bounce and mouthfeel to it, its taste predominantly gets drowned out by the butter.

The decadent seafood is paired with palate-cleansing drinks and sides. A tart iced lemonade and spiced cold-brew teas (a choice of Garden of Eden or Green Pomegranate) provide a zesty and fresh respite from the indulgence of meaty mains. The Garden of Eden, albeit herbal, is a tad too diluted to create a refreshing effect. Soups in traditional New England fashion also feature on the chalkboard menu. The clam chowder, with a generous portion of shellfish, has a desirable and chunky consistency, while the lobster bisque is creamy and luscious.

The crab grilled cheese is a star on its own; the nuttiness of the cheese melded with the sweetness of the white crab meat, forming a glutinous new take on a classic. The same cannot be said about the lobster grilled cheese, which is relatively underwhelming in comparison. The distinctive taste of the lobster is nowhere to be found and appears to be at odds with the richness from the cheese.

Luke’s Lobster is banking on its classic American interpretation of seafood to attract Singaporeans, and in a time where everyone is longing to travel again, their food might just tame a traveller’s spirit.