Dining With Miss Lil: With Harlem’s Own LoLo’s At Pier 57 And Much More

April 18, 2023

By Lil Nickelson

On Thursday, March 30th, 2023, the Harlem press was invited to Market 57, the 50,000-square-foot public space and market on the ground floor of Pier 57.

The location was at West 15th St. and the Hudson River before it opened to the public on Saturday, April 1st. The two-acre rooftop park and the walkway around the perimeter of Pier 57 are open to the public daily from 6:00 – 1:00 AM. An opening ceremony at Market 57 was held with Mayor Eric Adams, Governor Kathy Hochul, and Google CFO Ruth Porat in attendance.

Harlem’s LoLo’s Seafood Shack owners Executive Chef Raymond Mohan along his wife/business partner Skai Young Mohan made sure that Harlem World Magazine was on the media guest list to view the sneak peek opening. Market 57 bills itself as an incubator for emerging chefs and entrepreneurs rather than a food hall. The market highlights the culinary and cultural diversity of New York City thanks to the input from the James Beard Foundation in curating the vendor list, which focused on more women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) vendors. Two of the fifteen vendors are Harlem-based businesses, LoLo’s on the Water and Harlem Hops.

LoLo’s Seafood Shack located at 303 West 116th Street in between Manhattan Avenue and Frederick Douglass Boulevard (8th Avenue) has been a destination restaurant since the dynamite duo created it’s “locally owned, locally operated” island-inspired restaurant in 2014 as the centerpiece of their Island Time Restaurant Group.

LoLo’s on the Water menu offers baskets, and bowls not as extensive as at the shack’s menu, however, it more than adequately displays the depth of Chef’s Raymond culinary talents with long-time favorites like Johnny cakes, crab cake or shrimp and chips baskets, coconut shrimp, and mango slushies. LoLo’s has added items like jerk pork skewers with pineapple chutney and jai marillo aioli, Caribbean seafood aguachile with kiwi verde, beef burgers, a variety of empanadas, corn & okra fritters, avocado toast with sweet plantain plus something the shack doesn’t have, a dessert called ‘white clouds with a passion fruit gelee,” which was simply divine.

Harlem Hops opened at 2268 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd between 133rd -134th Streets in June 2018, and has become Central Harlem’s premier destination for “beer, booze, bites, and beats.” Harlem Hops at Market 57 offers a selection of small-batch beers from family-owned brewers, including beers from brewers of color. The owners Kevin Bradford, Kim Harris, and Stacey Lee Spratt offer small bites, socializing, and exploring an intriguing and accessible collection of innovative, small-batch beers. Guests can grab a beer and than a bite from any of the vendors and enjoy in the spacious common seating area, or they can enjoy Harlem Hops’ own menu of elevated pub fare. The location also gives another platform to the trio’s nonprofit: Harlem Hopes.

Mothershuckers is the food hall business of Ben “Moody” Harney, owner of The Real Mother Shuckers, which is known these days for serving ultra-fresh oysters from a roving wooden cart in the borough of Brooklyn. Oyster chowder and gumbo with oysters were his menu tastings. Moody shares the history of the Black influence on NYC’s oyster industry, which in the 19th century was known as the oyster capital of the world.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor located at 13 Doyers Street in Chinatown is another vendor that has been serving vintage dim sum dating back to 1920. They served vegetarian pan-fried noodles with superior soy sauce and their chicken and cabbage dumplings laid in this heavenly toasted sesame sauce that I just couldn’t resist. I want their cookbook so I can learn how to make that dish.

Bessou, which means something like “second home” in Japanese, is a Japanese restaurant that was located at 5 Bleeker Street in the section of Noho section of the village until it closed last year; in this newly created space, there is more of a seafood focus, with an abbreviated menu of Bessou classics made for fast casual. Bessou offers a modern take on everyday Japanese comfort food. Their menu tastings included miso caramel corn, beignets plus their signature dishes of original or hot honey nanban fried chicken with five dipping sauces and shrimp toast crispy rice; and both were so good, omg.

Fan-Fan Doughnut’s Fany Gerson’s new concept called Mijo, in collaboration with her husband Daniel Ortiz de Montellano, is a genuine taste of American Asiana and they have tacos, flautas, paletas, and chamoyada slushies.

Cobble Hill’s Malai ice cream shop, figuratively meaning cream of the crop, draws inspiration from South Asian ingredients, aromatic spices, and its founder’s upbringing. Their ice cream is all eggless, handcrafted, and churned with extraordinarily little air, resulting in purer, more robust flavors, as well as the creamiest textures you can find.

There are 8 other vendors alongside the 7 that I mentioned for a total of 15 vendors. The James Beard Foundation (“JBF”) operates Good to Go by JBF, an incubator for fast-casual concepts featuring rotating menus from established operators who embody JBF’s mission and values as well as PLATFORM by the JBF, a modern showcase kitchen and educational space with rotating chefs-in-residence, exceptional dining experiences, culinary arts programming, and events.

Related: Find more articles from Dining With Miss Lil here.

PLATFORM laid out an elaborate spread of food as well: sweet potato croquettes, berbere spiced cauliflower.

The 2-acre space is part of a $410 million renovation to the 70-year-old pier structure in Hudson River Park and now features 350,000 square feet of office space with California-based tech giant Google as the anchor tenant at Market 57, which has been building its New York presence as one of the engines behind NYC’s important tech sector. Market 57 contains community space with flexible layouts available for booking by local organizations (Oyster Classroom, Seahorse Classroom, and Daffodil Classroom), a public gathering place called the Living Room, and an outdoor screening space for the annual Tribeca Film Festival. Pier 57 formerly served as a shipping port and bus depot and is in the Chelsea section of Manhattan at the intersection of West Street and West 15th Street.

Here are more photographs from the event:

Photo credits: 1) Entrance oy Market 57. 2) Market 57. 3) JBF’s Platform. 4) LoLo’s Chef Raymond, his wife/partner Skai and Lil. 5-6) Harlem Hops. By Rudy Collins. 7-8) Ben Moody Harney, Mothershuckers founder and signage. 9) Nom Wah. 10-16) Other vendors.

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