Embracing BC Oysters

July 18, 2012

First things first: banish the silly myth that oysters should be eaten only in months ending with "r"-it predates both refrigeration and modern aquaculture. And blessed be; there's something undeniably grand about slurping these salty jewels on a sun-warmed patio, cold drink at hand. Guess the folks behind the recent boom of swaggy oyster shacks agree.

Rodney's Oyster House has long ruled the shucking scene, so it follows that two newbies would've cut their teeth at the rowdy Yaletown joint. Chewie's (2201 W. First Ave.) channels a similar vibe (tumbler wine glasses filled to the rim), and there's a solid representation of east and west-Kussi, Kumomoto, Village Bay, Fanny Bay-served with housemade mango-habañero sauce.

In Chinatown, Oyster Express (296 Keefer St.) is a pine-lined room lit by porthole windows. Oh, and a champion shucker, Sean Chesney, is at the helm offering Pacific Virginicas from Washington, Golden Mantles from the Sunshine Coast, and Royal Miyagis from Quadra Island.

Todd's on Sixth (1529 W. Sixth Ave.), an unassuming South Gran café, gives over to bivalve mania Thursday and Friday nights: bright and minerally Okeover Inlet oysters are served with a foursome of condiments, including Todd's grandmother's chili sauce.

Finally, it must be said that Yew at the Four Seasons (791 W. Georgia St.) has become the most exciting seafood restaurant in town. Oysters are given a Through the Looking Glass treatment: sweet 'n' sour Effinghams dressed with strawberries and vinegar mignonette; Fat Bastards laced with frozen foie gras shavings and honey pearls; Kumamotos topped with Northern Divine caviar and preserved-lemon crème fraîche.

But no matter if the room is formal or gussied, screw the cocktail forks. Embrace the bacchanal experience of slurping straight from the shell, a glass of something with bubbles (like B.C.'s Road 13 sparkling Chenin Blanc) at the ready.

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