Oysters at Oyster

Aw, shucks! These briny beauties are a delish delicacy straight or with a chaser. Try 'em raw, poached, grilled, pan fried, or baked at Oyster Seafood & Rawbar

Credit: Bolt of Blue

Oysters at Oyster

Aphrodisiacs? You decide. Oysters contain dopamine, which help govern brain activity and influence sexual desire in men and women

Oyster Seafood & Rawbar in Vancouver serves ’em up a buck a shuck, so there’s no reason not to have oysters whenever you want, all year long

I’m very particular about my oysters. I grew up on the Sunshine Coast, where they are absolutely everywhere, but still we treated them with reverence and didn’t have them often. Seldom did we eat them raw, but usually barbequed on a little Hibatchi or at the beach in a glowing pit of coals. And each time, they were heavenly.

Oysters’ Amorous Reputation

Humans have a relationship with these salty bivalves that goes back to the Roman times. Cassanova used to breakfast on 50 raw oysters every morning, and we all know his reputation. And as it turns out, he was on to something: The Telegraph recently published a story on data collected by scientists that surprisingly lends truth to the old wives’ tale. A team of American and Italian researchers analyzed bivalve molluscs – a group of shellfish that includes oysters – and found they were rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones, and that these acids were particularly high during the spring months. Huh!

I don’t recall oysters giving me much of a boost in the bedroom, especially not when roasting them on the beach as a sulky teenager with my mom and her boyfriend, and certainly not when I poisoned my boyfriend last year by mishandling what was supposed to be a romantic dish of baked oysters. I guess if I were to feel romantic about anything, it would be the taste of the oysters themselves.

Every year for my birthday I have a glass of champagne and at least one raw oyster. I ask the waiter/ess if I may keep the shell and then I take it home, wash it, and write the year inside with a sharpie. I have a nice little collection memorializing a tradition I observe every year. My birthday is coming up in about a week, and I plan to do the same, but this time at a new gem of a seafood restaurant I recently discovered.

Indulging at Oyster Seafood & Rawbar

Housed in the Old Stock Exchange building, Oyster is a postage-stamp sized seafood and rawbar with plush red seats and a friendly staff. I first became acquainted when a friend who had a desperate craving for oysters invited me to join her. I almost walked right past it, but am so glad I didn’t. Oyster has a simple menu of raw and cooked foods that are mostly from the ocean, but Chef Mizuki Mori also has a wild kangaroo tartare on the starter menu and short ribs on the mains to keep things interesting. There are prepared oysters, such as Oysters Rockefeller, as well as scallops, sablefish, salmon, mussels and crab.

I was only there for the oysters, which are delivered fresh every day and come mostly from the Sunshine Coast (I knew I tasted something familiar). The most common are the Summer Breeze and the Royal Miyagi (available for a buck a shuck) but they also have premium types: Kumomoto, Kushi and Shigoku.

From 3-4pm Monday to Wednesday, Oyster offers $0.75 a shuck, and the rest of the week it’s a buck a shuck from 3-7pm. Raw oysters are served with traditional condiments: lemon, fresh grated horseradish, mignonette, hot sauce and ponzu. Try the Shuckers Dozen, 16 premium oysters for $36 to sample some of the best oysters available. Oyster is also a member of the Ocean Wise program.

This year I am single, and it occurs to me that the sweet, salty, briny creamy everything of oysters will be my date this Valentine’s day, and a damn good one. As I watched my petite 90lb friend knock back what had to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5 dozen oysters without breaking a sweat, I thought ‘enough of this one or two days a year business for what author Pat Conroy calls “the sea made flesh.”‘ I’m going to eat oysters whenever I want in 2013. And I’m going to revel in it.

So whether you are alone or single, try Oyster for a romantic and sensuous meal of high-quality seafood. I’ll probably see you there. And my date will come with lemon and a little horseradish.