Seafood Market Reels in Patrons with Claws, Clams and Omakase

The Lobster Place is a melting pot, with employees and customers from all over the world. They have one thing in common — a hankering for fresh produce from the sea.

By Rohini Chaki and Jinsol Jung

Customer shopping for seafood at The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market. Photo by Jinsol Jung.

The Lobster Place has, since 1995, remained one of the few constants in a changing food landscape at the Chelsea Market, a hotspot for food shopping and dining for tourists and New York City locals alike. But patrons go for more than the steamed lobster dinner, a substantial offering slathered in butter and served with a wedge of lemon.

Felipe showcases the main attraction (left). Steamed lobster, platted and ready (middle). Eating lobster is a messy business (right). Photos by Rohini Chaki

After a gut renovation in 2013, The Lobster Place added a raw bar serving oysters. Davis Herron, director of retail operations, said it’s difficult to run a restaurant business in New York City, and especially in the Chelsea Market.

From a regulatory environment, its a challenge, things are always changing.

The new face of the restaurant-cum-marketplace includes a takeout sushi counter where chefs make sushi on demand and an omakase bar where patrons can sit and leave it to the chef to serve personalized bites of sushi.

Daily selection of fresh oysters (left). Omakase Chef Rinzin (right). Photos by Jinsol Jung and Rohini Chaki

At The Lobster Place, the sushi counter and omakase bar are managed by a team of chefs who are primarily from Nepal. The work begins early in the morning and continues well past the lunch hour — demand for sushi is high. And why not, when the seafood is fresh and sustainably sourced.

Sushi being prepared ahead of the lunch rush. Photos by Rohini Chaki.

Dawa Gurung, also from Nepal, has been working at The Lobster Place for nine years. He’s spent five of them making sushi. He taught us how to make his favorite: the lobster roll.

Although the Chelsea Market is known for attracting crowds of tourists, it is also frequented by locals such as Hiro Figimoto, a former Chelsea resident who now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Employee Claudio is behind the bar shucking oysters for one early morning customer. Photos by Jinsol Jung.
Langostino and half shells ready to be served. Photo by Jinsol Jung.

Behind the scenes, Rohini Chaki flashes the camera a smile.

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