Happy National Oyster Day! This is my second Oyster Day celebration and I've decided to go a bit bigger than last year. Seeing that the holiday is on a Friday, I decided to split my oyster fest into two segments: casual slurping at lunch and a more intense tasting for dinner. Below is a recap of how I celebrated and tips on how to make the most of your celebration.

6 Blue Points & PBR for $8 at Fish

For lunch, I met up with my buddy Chavelli at Fish, a low-key, neighborhood-y West Village seafood restaurant on Bleecker Street. They have one of the best oyster deals in town: 6 Blue Points plus a glass of wine (red/white) or PBR for $8! If you’re not looking for anything fancy, this deal really hits the spot. Even on their regular menu, the oyster prices are extremely reasonable. While they don’t have a huge selection (3-4 kinds daily), they’re priced at around $2 per piece. That’s what some restaurants charge during happy hour!

A Dozen Oysters at Aquagrill

After work, my colleague Niyati and I headed down to Aquagrill for a more intense oyster experience. What I love about Aquagrill is that they really deliver on variety and shucking quality. Each piece is always cleanly opened and well presented. There’s no grit that gets in the way of the glorious slurping experience. We were seated at the corner spot at the bar by an open window. @AquagrillNYC happened to be in the house and dropped over to say hello. It was nice to put a face to the Twitter handle!

Niyati pretty much let me do the ordering. I was in the mood to try some new varieties, so we ended up selecting 8 kinds.

When it comes to tasting new oysters, I always order two to make sure that the taste is consistent. I also never use condiments. It’s too difficult to get a true sense of the oyster’s natural flavors when you add lemon or cocktail sauce on top.

Here are the oysters that were ordered and my tasting notes. I’m trying to “standardize” my ratings so that the oysters can be compared to each other. The scale that I’m using is a 10-point one, with 1 being the least intense (e.g., not salty whatsoever) and 10 being the most intense (e.g., extremely flavorful).

Blackberry Point from Northwest Prince Edward Island
Flavor: 6 | Salinity: 8 | Sweetness: 2 | Texture: Saggy, airy
Straightforward, sharp saltiness, thin meat, but clean finish

Conway Cup from Cascumpeque Bay, Prince Edward Island 
Flavor: 4 | Salinity: 5 | Sweetness: 4 | Texture: Juicy, soft
Reminds me of raisins — salty and sweet, straightforward and clean finish

Wiley Point from Damariscotta River, Maine
Flavor: 8 | Salinity: 7 | Sweetness: 5 | Texture: Firm, chewy
Lingering sweetness through the body; crisp, vegetal finish

First Light from Mashpee, Massachusetts 
Flavor: 5 | Salinity: 6 | Sweetness: 5 | Texture: Chewy, crisp
Slightly nutty, clean aftertaste; an oyster that is easy to eat a lot of

East Beach Blonde from Charlestown Pond, Rhode Island
Flavor: 8 | Salinity: 7 | Sweetness: 5 | Texture: Slightly thin, chewy
Earthy and savory tone; cured prosciutto or ham flavors

Komo Guay from Baynes Sound, British Columbia
Flavor: 7 | Salinity: 9 | Sweetness: 3 | Texture: Semi creamy, chewy
Lemon notes, little liquor; hard to get past the saltiness

Deer Creek from South Hood Canal, Washington
Flavor: 8 | Salinity: 3 | Sweetness: 2 | Texture: Ultra creamy
Deep cupped; earthy, minerality in the finish; buttery

Gold Creek from Hood Canal, Washington
Flavor: 4 | Salinity: 2 | Sweetness: 3 | Texture: Soft, ultra creamy
Buttery and crisp; mineral aftertaste that lingers for a long time on back of the tongue

I think from this bunch, I enjoyed the Wiley Point, First Light, and Gold Creeks the most.

Aquagrill National Oyster Day Menu

So now you’re probably in the mood for some bivalves now right? If you’re a beginner to these mollusks and are wondering how to make the most out of your experience, there are some simple tips:

  • Bring a buddy: it’s a lot more fun evaluating oysters with a friend or two. Sometimes you’ll taste very different things!
  • Watch them shuck: oysters look exotic enough, but if you are able to watch the shuckers do their magic at the bar, that’s when it becomes really mesmerizing.
  • Skip the sauce: don’t be shy about trying the oyster by itself. At restaurants, oysters will always arrive with an entourage of condiments, such as lemon, cocktail sauce, mignonette, or hot sauce. The best way to taste the flavors is by trying it naked (or with nothing on top).
  • Look closely: examine the shell and the flesh! You’ll soon realize that not all varieties look the same. You can actually tell quite a lot about the oyster based on its appearance.
  • Chew: don’t just swallow the damn thing! Chew the meat to extract the sweetness and unlock hidden flavor complexities.
  • Order 3-6 varieties: make sure to sample at least one from each coast; ordering more than 6 varieties at a time might make it confusing to keep track (we ordered 4 types first, followed by another 4).

What are some rituals or rules that you follow while enjoying oysters?