For a long time, Orange County was a wasteland where no lobster rolls dared come. We saw Guy Fieri shoving toasted split-top buns full of succulent sea-cucaracha meat into his pointy blond head, and some of us who spent summers in Atlantic Canada or New England reminisced about the simplest of all sandwiches… but it was truly just a mental exercise.
Then, within two weeks, not one but two trucks hawking bug-in-a-bun debuted in Orange County. The LA phenomenon Lobsta Truck bought a second truck, dedicated to OC, and the SlapFish truck, with its sustainable seafood, opened up (see yesterday's article here).
Both serve lobster-oriented sandwiches. Whose is better?
The Lobsta Truck serves an absolutely authentic New England-style lobster roll. It's not fancy. It's chunks of lobster shoved into a split-top roll (a rare bird indeed in these parts, where even hot dogs are sometimes served in telera rolls), dressed with your choice of butter or mayonnaise. The meat is Maine lobster, steamed the way Maine lobster ought to be steamed, and it's big chunks of sweet claw and tail meat mixed with strands of body meat.
The SlapFish lobster grinder (say “lobstah grindah”) is made from South Atlantic spiny lobster, dressed with a mayonnaise dressing with “crunchies”–chopped celery and a big piece of iceberg, which makes it seem more like a shrimp salad than a lobster roll. (To be fair, it's not pretending to be a New England-style lobster roll.)
Both sandwiches are excellent. The SlapFish is a tastier sandwich, but the Lobsta Truck rings that bell of sandy beaches and warm(er than here) ocean water. The meat is better on the Lobsta Truck product; the SlapFish comes with some nice vegetables en escabeche (but guys, put it in a cup–the juice runs and makes the roll mushy). The Lobsta Truck is smaller but has lobster exploding out the top, though it's $12; the SlapFish is bigger and more satisfying as a meal, and is $7. The Lobsta Truck is the specialist; SlapFish has a wider menu for people who might not just want bug-in-a-bun.
The verdict? There is no winner. It's not possible to judge which succulent lobster sandwich is better. Seek them both out. If they happen to be at the same place at the same time, as they were last Saturday at Noble Ale Works, I'd say go for the SlapFish–mostly because you can have a nice beer with your sandwich and still come away at the $12 mark.