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Crab sits in a puffed up plastic bag next to a ginger beer.
Crab boil at LoLo’s

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LoLo’s Spicy Crab Is Clutch Outdoor Summer Eating

The Caribbean seafood restaurant in Harlem also nails jerk chicken

“Ordering a collection of shellfish is a frighteningly easy way to burn through a wad of cash,” I wrote in May, while citing Le Sia as solid exception for those seeking more accessible shrimp, crawfish, and lobster. There are, of course, other respectable establishments that traffic in non-exorbitant crustaceans; among them are Clawdaddy’s on the Lower East Side, Boat Haus in Sunset Park, and a cool place in Harlem where I’ve been eating backyard seafood boils as of late.

That venue is LoLo’s Seafood Shack, a Caribbean-Cape Cod mashup where a steaming pile of snow crab legs, drenched in spicy sauce, will run $20, about five bucks less than at Le Sia. The restaurant is the brainchild of entrepreneur Leticia Skai Young, and her husband, chef Raymond Mohan, a longtime Douglas Rodriguez lieutenant who spent his childhood in Guyana before moving to Queens. The duo were able to fund the initial LoLo’s lease in 2014 with proceeds from the sale of their former home in Williamsburg.

Since opening, Mohan has been dishing out affordable fried smelt, Belizean conch fritters, crawfish boils, shark sandwiches, as well as jerk poultry and pork. The chicken, cooked over spice berries from the Jamaican bayberry tree, is particularly good, exhibiting a deeper layer of smoke that one often encounters at some of the better known shops in Brooklyn.

Today, however, we’re talking about shellfish boils, which LoLo’s pairs with garlic butter, ginger butter, Old Bay, scallions, coconut curry, or a combination sauce that packs in all of the above with a good dose of heat, perfume, and most of all, salinity. This is food that makes you want to drink beer, which you should.

Snow crab at LoLo’s
Snow crab at LoLo’s

Here’s how it all works: You order at the counter, take your number to a seat — ideally the al fresco backyard bar — and wait. After about 10 minutes, a tangle of snow crab arrives in a steam-inflated plastic bag. Tear it open; inhale the heady aromas of ocean and coconut; dump the contents in a cardboard container; put on a pair of blue plastic gloves; and start ripping apart your dinner.

There’s not much else to say, except that lots of slurping and sucking are in order. That’s particularly true where the legs once attached to the body, a knobby bit that hides all sorts of sweet meat — and sometimes a gob of brilliantly funky tomalley — in its tiny crevices. For any remaining sauce, of which there should be a surfeit, the best use is as a dipping medium for the honey butter-slicked Johnny cakes, a chewy fried bread.

You see it coming already: I’m calling the crab seafood boil at LoLo’s a BUY, though really, consider adding on an order of jerk chicken for a proper surf & turf.

Buy, Sell, Hold is a column from Eater New York’s chief critic Ryan Sutton where he looks at a single dish or item and decides whether you should you buy it, sell it (or just don’t try it at all), or hold (give it some time before trying).

LoLo's Seafood Shack

303 West 116th Street, Manhattan, NY 10026 (646) 649-3356 Visit Website
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