The Albright: Eating Lobster with a Vegan

Due to the hustle and bustle of the touristy Santa Monica pier, I had not stepped foot on the pier in some time. I was curious to check out this seafood restaurant called The Albright, established in 1977 right on the pier on the left hand side. After getting knocked by one too many strollers and kids, I contemplated my desire to ever want children, but I was in hot pursuit of the perfect lobster roll.

I was relieved to duck away into this casual spot to sit at our reserved wooden picnic style table outside for some peace. The decor reminded of the many lobster joints I frequented in my home state of Connecticut. The Albright, once named SM Pier Seafood, was originally started by a Korean couple who had emigrated to the US.


Photo credit:
Photo credit:

The Albright has been completely rebranded and revamped with a modern streamlined look thanks to Yunnie Kim Morena and her husband, Greg Morena‘s local tastemaker friends who made sure to preserve the restaurant’s original atmosphere and character.  The new name “The Albright” is in reference to the nautical Albright Knot, which symbolizes tying together two generations of a local, family-run business.

As the longest running restaurant on the Pier, their daughter Yunnie recently took the helm of the family-run, Pier mainstay from her mom, Hae Ju Kim. On my quest in LA for the perfect lobsta roll, I was eager to meet my LaLaScoop co founder Rochelle for a lunch review with the restaurant’s updated new menu. Although Rochelle has spent the last several months as a vegan, she gleefully opted to join me for this foodie review with the famous Santa Monica ferris wheel and beach in the background.

The Albright clam chowder
Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

The first course started with something I pride myself on knowing a lot about – Clam Chowdah! I have constantly been let down in this city with the quality of clam chowder that even high end restaurants put out. As Rochelle talked to the clams and thanked them for their life, she “ooohed” and “aaaahed” just as much as me, with the creamy rich flavor of the soup. We were seriously in awe as this completely outdid the clam chowder I had the night before in Silver Lake. It was rich and creamy, filled with nice chunks of potatoes and more importantly, loaded with fresh tasting clams. The oyster crackers topped off this bliss, and I was already wondering how I could take this home in a vat!

Delicious pre-made sangria in plastic cups with pealable lids joined our chowdah feast. Rochelle’s vegan mindset seemed to be taking a turn, as she wished she could devour this delectable mixture again because she said it tasted so much better than lettuce and broccoli. I mean she did grow up in Seattle on the water, so I know she once devoured fresh fish regularly. I apologized for tempting her once again and that I could totally understand her new stance, considering almost every friend I have in LA is vegan. However, my senses took over and I was dreaming how I would sample this hearty clam chowder in their sourdough bread bowl next time.

The Albright Santa Monica pier
Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

Our second course consisted of two types of fresh oysters. The fresh, juicy, big Fanny Bay oysters from Mexico and the little Kumamotas tasted delicious with a splash of mignonette. Once again, Rochelle was hesitant and I ended up eating most of her share. She decided to text her boyfriend to let him know she was cheating and that he too could have a day off, if he liked.

Our next course involved the $16.95 lobster roll that was worth every bite. The roll was toasted to perfection with butter like they do in New England. I believe the rolls are even flown in from Boston. The hefty chunks of lobster were not overdone with the mayo mixture. It was exactly what I dreamed – a perfect New England style lobster roll with no fancy fixings and no overpowering weird mixture to take away from the fresh lobster taste.

The Albright Santa Monica pier lobster roll
Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

The Albright did not cheat and filled up the hearty roll with lumps of tail meat, unlike most spots in LA. I once cried over the two bite lobster roll at Son of a Gun. Perfect fries hugged the bun while I was secretly happy Rochelle was giving me back her share since she only tried a small piece. She thanked the creature again for giving up its life (and was making my day even happier by denying herself her share).

The sauteed Prince Edward Island Mussels in a white wine cream sauce were succulent and juicy, and tasted rich and flavorful, and just as good as they looked. Rochelle passed them up as she watched me masterfully fork each succulent orange bait like it was perhaps my last meal. I didn’t want to tell her I spent summers smashing mussels off rocks in Connecticut to use the stringy inside for bait to catch crabs. Thank you creamy, juicy, tender mussels. Albright, you are a seafood WIN!

The Albright Santa Monica pier mussels
Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

One of their biggest sellers is the Fish and Chips, and for $13.25, it seems like a steal. Try the California/LA staple – the beer battered fish tacos, or the grilled tacos plate in chicken, black tiger shrimp, or veggie (perfect for your vegan friend).

Our final course or should I say “dessert” consisted of a beautiful one and half pound lobster surrounded by corn on the cob split in half. The lobster came expertly cracked to make our experience easy although they had no plastic bibs, and with my first couple cracks of the claws I was covered in lobster juice. Rochelle was already traumatized when the lobster came, and I had to reassure her I had been boiling lobsters for years. All was OK. She once again thanked it for its life, almost shed some tears, and said a prayer on its shell. I reiterated her sentiments and thanked the lobster for making my day and providing me with a mouth watering ocean tasting lunch.

The tender juicy meat slipped beautifully out of the claws as my messy hands dipped the succulent meat in butter. Hmmmmmmmm! I was making so much noise in this pleasurable childhood ritual. Although I wasn’t about to jump off this dock to go swimming to get clean, like I might do at home. Rochelle managed to eat one claw with a smile on her face. But, as I was twisting and cracking the body off, and sliding off the orange eggs from the tail meat, Rochelle’s face winced with pure horror that I was actually going to eat this sea crawler, in all its messy parts. Good thing there was no green gook spewing out today.

The Albright Santa Monica pier lobster
Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

I tried to eat slow and enjoy each bite (mindfulness in practice), but it was hard to do with a vegan sitting across from me, and I realized I should probably just partake in my lobster eating ritual by myself.

Learn more about The Albright’s Menu, Pier Classics, Beer and Wine List, and what’s in store for kids.

The Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier starts July 9 (FREE Thursdays from 7 – 10 PM), so what better way to enjoy yourself than to order the new gourmet Albright Picnic Baskets or the new mobile Fisherman’s Raw Bar. With The Albright’s location right on the pier and extensive array of fresh seafood, making a stop there is the perfect entree to summer!

The Albright 12060876876_f4dff28c8e


Santa Monica, CA 90405

Mon – Fri 12pm – Close
Sat – Sun 11am – Close




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