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Try a Shark Sandwich at This Harlem Seafood Restaurant

By Gustavo Solis | October 22, 2014 4:38pm | Updated on October 24, 2014 4:46pm

HARLEM — The new eatery on Fredrick Douglass Boulevard has food with a bite. 

LoLo’s Seafood Shack, named after small eateries called lolos found along the beaches of Saint Martin, is serving shrimp steam pots, smelt fish and chips and shark sandwiches.

“I thought Harlem needs its own little lolo,” said the owner, Skai Young. “I really envision this place being like the lolos in the Caribbean that serve as a gathering place.”

The space on 303 W 116th St. looks like it belongs to the islands. Young, who lived in Anguilla, designed it.

The wooden benches and walls make you feel like you are in a shack. There are little reminders of the Caribbean all over the place, from vintage license plates to wooden bottles to maps and a mermaid on the bathroom door.

The restaurant also has a large wooden patio in the back that looks like a beach deck in the middle of Harlem.

Chef Raymond Mohan, who was named one of the country’s best new cooks in 2009 and is the executive chef of the Coffee Shop, helped Young come up with LoLo’s menu.

Our menu is very unique, it sets us apart from some of the other restaurants in the area,” Young said.

It is a celebration of all of the islands, and some of the land-locked Caribbean countries as well, Young said.

The eatery has Jamaican jerk ribs, Belizean Johnny cakes, Bahamas-style conch fritters and Trinidad inspired sandwiches. One of its standouts is the crispy shark bake — a shark filet fried to perfection served with with salsa verde, pepper sauce, tomato and cabbage all inside two pieces of homemade bread.

In Saint Martin, the term "lolo" comes from the French word “lot” to indicate generous portions, but it has also become an unofficial acronym for Locally Owned, Locally Operated.

Young, who was born and raised in East Harlem and recently moved back into the neighborhood, plans to live up to both definitions.

Everything on the menu is less than $20. Considering that most of the seafood is imported from the Caribbean and the seafood purveyor also works for the Four Seasons, keeping the prices accessible was a great feat of menu engineering, Young said.

“If it’s good enough for the Four Seasons it’s good enough for LoLo’s,” she added.