Help me find more oysters to try (especially on the east coast)
December 27, 2015 9:47 PM   Subscribe

Trying raw oysters here and there during different times of my life living on the east coast and never cared for them unless they were fried. So large and salty and meh. Then, THEN i went to Vancouver and Seattle and fell in love with: Chefs Creek oysters, Kumamotos, and Kusshis.

I like em drizzled with a dash of sweet or lemony vinaigrette. They're small and just fantastic, but I can't put into words properly their essential essence (other than, small, not too briny, and taste fantastic) in order to explain exactly what i am looking for. That's where you come in...I am hoping that someone who know a lot about oysters, or has tried these three types of oysters and can discern what it is that makes them amazing and can help me seek out similar oysters, especially on the east coast of the United States. The most important consideration for me is size- i don't want large specimens and i have tried going into oyster places on the east coast and asking for smaller oysters and what they bring out is still too large to eat without psychological distress (based on the feeling of having a very large slimy thing in one's mouth and/or the visual of this giant slimy thing in the shell before you. If it can't go down in one easy swallow it's too big for me).

So, whatcha got for me?
posted by TestamentToGrace to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Yeah, I have had this issue too. West coast oysters tend to be smaller and sweeter, and east coasters are brinier and bigger. I think if you want to eat local oysters on the east coast you'll have to come to terms with what makes them special too. I live in the Pacific Northwest so while I have similar preferences to you, all my recs will be local to me, which doesn't do you much good.

You could try going to oysterater and looking for small, low-salinity oysters local to your area, and see what turns up. Maybe you'll find a hidden gem from your own backyard, worth a shot.
posted by town of cats at 10:03 PM on December 27, 2015

East and West coast oysters taste so distinct to me that I consider them two different animals. I've never had one that I could even come close to mistaking for the other. I'm not sure what you're looking for lives on the East Coast, sorry.

However, depending on your location, you may be able to buy fresh West coast oysters. Many high-end restaurants that have raw bars will feature both. And if you're in NYC, check out The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market.
posted by STFUDonnie at 10:18 PM on December 27, 2015

The Atlantic Ocean is saltier than the Pacific, so there is one issue resolved. Second, depending on your location, oysters are edible for up to three weeks after harvest, this does not make them delicious after week one. Then, size is a factor. As you have identified.

The oysters you had were harvested where you were visiting, so probably optimal freshness. Here is an online oyster guide with pics and tasting profiles by name.

You might also like Shigoku's (Pacific,) cocktail sized Malpeques (Atlantic,) Belon's from either Maine or France (Atlantic, both,) Eld Inlet (Pacific,) Barron Point (Pacific,) and Calm Cove's (Pacific.) The list is endless. Gulf Oysters are their own thing - book a flight to New Orleans!!

Handling, travel time, distribution routes - these things play a part in quality, as does time of year. Colder water means better quality, you'll avoid the dreaded vibrio virus as well.

Tell me where you are, I can maybe tell you where to get what you want.
posted by jbenben at 10:19 PM on December 27, 2015

As you embark on this journey, here's something drives me up a fucking tree -- milky looking oysters are in the spawning stage of their reproductive cycle and are gross. They are NOT creamy *shudders.* When people say "creamy" what they want to say is rich, luscious, or even fatty. Don't say "creamy." It's annoying.

Pacific Oysters and Atlantic Oysters are two different species. Five species are popular for consumption worldwide (Kum's from Japan come to mind, they are now cultivated in the Pacific North West, too. I think Belon's are also a species, they have also jumped the pond from France to the North East Coast via commercial cultivation...) Varieties or types among these species are near endless due to how and where they grow - mineral content of coastal waters, surf effects, presence of seaweed types - this all effects flavor and shape. Temperature and climate effects spawning cycles. Man has done his part with cultivation techniques.

Anyway, try everything you dare. Welcome to the party :))
posted by jbenben at 10:37 PM on December 27, 2015

jbenben, what prompted my question (i live in metro DC area btw) is that i'm going to be in Boston for work for most of Jan/Feb. They have tons of oyster bars.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 10:39 PM on December 27, 2015

If you're going to some of the better known oyster bars in Boston, they'll be more than happy to give you exactly the recs you're looking for. What they have on the menu will vary seasonally and even day to day, so if you just say "I prefer the taste of west coast oysters; what do you have like that?" they'll happily geek out on you with their options. Seriously, places line Island Creek or Neptune treat oysters like wine. Take advantage of their expertise.
posted by olinerd at 12:50 AM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Agree that if you go to a good oyster place in Boston they will hook you up and no judgement. I first had West Coast oysters at a fancy restaurant in Boston's South End that I can't remember the name of, and which I suspect has closed. Totally changed my relationship with oysters!

I have also had good West Coast oysters at Ford's Fish Shack in Ashburn, VA, of all places...
posted by mskyle at 5:42 AM on December 28, 2015

There are some west coast oysters you might not like . .. we have our share of big fat meaty oysters, including our fabulous Hood Canal oysters. (I have rarely met a raw oyster I did not love.) By all means mention that you like west coast style oysters. But if you further explain you like sweet, small, minimally creamy and somewhat metallic oysters, and don't care for very briny ones, any oyster server is going to be shucking what you will enjoy.
posted by bearwife at 9:33 AM on December 28, 2015

« Older What is this live ammo doing in my apartment?   |   Employment Application: Is this a trick question? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.