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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In Praise of Imposter Lobster in South City

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 2:15 PM

click to enlarge Not lobster, but not half bad either. - T. PALMER
  • T. Palmer
  • Not lobster, but not half bad either.
Cruising the El and hankering for something cheap 'n fried, SFoodie made a guilty pleasure pit stop at Long John Silver's (1111 El Camino Real at Del Paso, South San Francisco) for some fish and chips and hush puppies. Inside the spot (which doubles as a KFC), we were intrigued by a menu item called Lobster Bites, and added them to our fish and chips meal ($6.99 for all).

Our Spidey sense told us to be skeptical about whether this would be real lobster, or perhaps a lobster-flavored thing -- lobster food? Once the order came up and we saw the package, we understood.

Lobster, it blared in big print. Langostino, it squeaked in tiny letters. Ah, langostino, that not-quite-lobster, not-quite-prawn creature.

Long John Silver's first rolled out the Bites about three years ago and instantly drew ire from Maine lobstermen, who had already taken issue with a similar claim from the quick-service restaurant chain Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill and their "lobster burritos." The kerfuffle resulted in an FDA ruling allowing South American langoustine to be called langostino lobster.

With all due respect to the Maine lobster industry, which we'd much rather support were our pockets a tad deeper, we have to be honest: The Lobster Bites, heavily buttered under a crumbly and ungreasy fried coating, were pretty good for a fast food item. Whatever the heck they actually are.

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Tamara Palmer

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