I must warn my reader from the outset; if you’re put-off by the vulgarity and vagrancy that often litters my writing, a review of an oyster restaurant might not be for you. Because, although they’ve slipped down the league table of aphrodisiacs (now lying somewhere between Jäger Bombs and Netflix in the virgin curing stakes) oysters still have unadulterated sex appeal. Slimy, salty, succulent sex appeal. And I intend to use every slimy, salty euphemism the dark recesses of my mind can muster. If you choose to stop reading at this point, I offer this summary; Taylor Shellfish Farms purveys damn fine oysters and you won’t regret a visit.
The odds in oyster roulette are now very much stacked in favour of the eater. Contrary to popular belief, you rarely get a bad one – although I have had a disproportionate number of bad ones in Hong Kong – but when you do, by god they’re bad; chewing on a breeding mule’s labia bad (I did warn you). But when you get a good one, by Jesus Christmas they’re good; post-orgasmic lightheaded aghast good.
As with so many sins of the flesh, as you grow older you question why you didn’t start younger. I hadn’t eaten an oyster until well into my late twenties. As such I wasn’t privy to their beguiling beauty, but I also wasn’t privy to the ceremony which their eating demands. The misty glacial spread of the serving platter; the child-sized fork that adeptly scrapes naked milky flesh from ragged shell; the quick pour, the brief roll around the mouth and the sharp upturn of the chin that sends the chilly meaty money shot slipping down your throat.
Perhaps as a result of this ridiculous pomp and ceremony, oysters are eaten on occasion. And with occasion comes memories. Many an oysters has shucked a distinct place and time into my mind’s eye.
This year for example, I forced my six-month-old child to brave sub-zero temperatures so her parents could gorge on the best oysters in the Alps. In an unassuming garden shed on the side of an icy road in landlocked Courchevel 1650, the finest Bélon oysters are delivered daily. Like so much of gastronomy, the very best oysters are unfortunately Gallic in origin. As is the case with Taylor Shellfish.
My choice is the French White Pearl.They maybe the size of a $2HK coin but at $59HK each, pound for pound you’ll struggle to find more expensive oysters. But they are very, very good. They are sweet, smooth and perfectly formed.
Mrs A and I would happily make short work of two-dozen of the wee crustaceans. However, the menu contains no less than 32 varieties of oysters. As is now evident I quite like oysters, but with 32 we cross a line from appreciation to pedantry. With 32 choices paralysis sets in. So, I asked the waitress for her finest oyster.
With a wide grin she scurried away, quickly returning with a oyster that literally glistened. The Ostra Regal Gold Standardoyster spends his adolescence in the harsh Atlantis sea in Clew Bay, Ireland before maturing in the more sheltered, peat-rich environment of Bannow Cove, South-West Ireland. Finally, she (after three years the hermaphroditic oyster typically identifies as female) is dispatched to Ile d’Oleron, France, where she acquires a gold leave coating – a vajazzle, if you will – and a hefty price tag.
Now, I’ve never seen a vajazzlein the wild before. And I’ve always assumed they were a form of low rent body art; a tramp stamp for the too-long-didn’t-read generation. I’ve never stopped to consider they might be a signifier of well kept female appendage. But that is what we have with the vajazzled oyster. It was quite simply divine.
Mrs A put best when describing the taste as “the very essence of oyster”. The menu didn’t do a bad job either, describing it thus; “tastes pure, rich flavour and sweet scallop, nut aftertaste”. They are – and I can’t emphasise this enough – perfect.
Yet, Taylor Oyster Farm isn’t perfect. The middle of the road wine is too expensive, the music consists of the entirety of Spotify on shuffle and the squid we ordered was over cooked and oily.
But all of that is unnecessary first-base foreplay. My advice is to wet your lips, wrap them around an open oyster and don’t come up for air until there are a dozen appeased carcasses lying in front of you.
How much? $1,298 for two
Where? 86 High St, Sai Ying Pun
Who goes? Oyster fiends