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Posted November 1, 2013 by David Tang in America / USA
 
 

Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco

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How depressing is it when you come back from holidays and look through your photos? You just want to be back there (not at work) and without a care in the world. It’s even more depressing when you look through your photos and have to write about it! But nevertheless some of the experiences I had were so amazing I want as many people to get in on it as possible.

If I could recommend only one “must eat” in San Francisco then Swan Oyster Depot is hands down the one you need to make time for. Upon arriving around 11am we were greeted with 2 things: a beautiful classic Porsche 356 and a not so beautiful queue of people stemming from the door down the street.

porsche, Porsche 356
Old school Porshes are just too beautiful

swan oyster depot, san fransicso
Make sure to get there early

30 – 40 minutes later we’re seated at the long marble bar where it feels as if time slows down and you are in some kind of magical fantasy world where wine and the seafood flow with vigour. There are menu boards on the wall behind the bar but no one really looks at them – you just tell your server what you want to eat and they go off and prepare it for you… simple as that.

bread, sourdough, butter
And you thought sourdough in Sydney was amazing…

clam chowder, chowder, soup
Forget about the Clam Chowder at Fishermans wharf

We start off with some of that world famous San Francisco sourdough, clam chowder & wine from Napa Valley (what else would you drink while in San Francisco?) The chowder was a great starter; not thin or runny and much better than anything you’ll find on Fishermans wharf.

shrimp cocktail, shrimp, cocktail, prawn
Shrimp Cocktails have never been this good

I usually never order shrimp cocktails because pretty much everyone uses bland, tasteless morsels that they pulled out of a bag but I figured if anywhere, I’ll get a good one here.  It was impressive and each little shrimp was popping with flavour.

oyster, oysters
Mmm… oysters…

I’m a huge fan of oysters and whilst the thought of oysters in the morning may put some off – I cannot wait to shovel them into my mouth! Since there were 4 of us there we get 2 mixed dozen which gives us 6 oysters each, of varying origins around the states,  with each one tasting different from the last. They came with a few different vinaigrettes but I go “au naturel” with a squeeze of lemon – perfection.

sashimi, scallops, capers, onion
“Sicilian style” sashimi scallops

So Sal our server rolls up on us as we are finishing the oysters and asks “so what’s next?”  The one thing I had my eye on from the very start were the fat scallops that were on display.  I blurt out a bit too eagerly “Scallops! I want those fat scallops.” He smiles, asks if I can eat them raw, and says he’ll do them for me how he loves to have them and comes back a few minutes later with a plate of “Sicilian style” sashimi scallops. Coated in rich olive oil and topped with finely diced Spanish onion & capers, the scallops were out of this world delicious – the kind which makes you close your eyes and rock your head back.

uni, sea urchin
Fresh uni is an amazing thing

If you love sushi or call yourself a seafood lover and haven’t tried freshly cut uni/sea urchin before, then get your butt down to the fish markets and do it as soon as you can. The last time I had uni was in Japan and someone described it to be like the foie gras of the sea, which I think is a good comparison if you’ve never had it before. Really good uni is bright yellow/orange in colour, soft and creamy in texture and has a sweet, nutty taste that should remind you of the ocean. You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it but you really should give it a go.

Finishing off my third glass of wine for the morning I realise I’m full – I want to eat more but I can’t. We settle the bill and stroll out the door giddy on a seafood high (maybe it was the wine). The 30 metre line that was there from opening is still there, probably longer than before but I’d stand in line again without hesitation in order to sit at that marble bar once more.

salmon, scallops, prawn, shrimp, clams, shellfish, fish
Will I be back? Oh yes I’ll be back

Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk St, San Francisco
CA 94109, United States
Phone: +1 415-673-2757

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David Tang

 
David has been working professionally in the Food & Beverage industry for the past 4 years. As head of marketing & development in a food & travel company, David's work, home and dining lives are constantly overlapping. Obsessed with coffee & burgers, David can be found downing a piccolo (or gin & tonic) while he’s out and about eating his way through Sydney. Otherwise David will be in a kitchen recreating & experimenting with both celebrated and contemporary dishes. His culinary influences include his mum (trained in classical French cooking in a pre-war Vietnam), David Chang & Anthony Bourdain.