THE OYSTER BAR
By : MELISSA RICHTER
19 March 2019
Tucked away on a quiet soi in the bustling business district of Narathiwas Road, The Oyster Bar is one of the best places in the city to get some seriously good seafood. The brainchild of American Billy Marinelli and his knowledgeable and competent Thai staff of “owner partners” this hidden gem has been open for almost 10 years. It is the only restaurant offering an exclusive menu with wide variety of wild caught fish that are natural, sustainable, fresh and never farmed or frozen. They rotate between 20 different types of fish that are sourced from around the world, and they only use suppliers that Billy knows well and has built solid relationships with over the years. In addition to the wide variety of fish, they also have the largest selection of oysters in Bangkok.
The venue itself is relaxed with a chilled out beach house vibe and color palette of azure blue, white and a natural beige hue that is a bit reminiscent of sand. There are two levels of dining, and a small outside area near the entrance for a la carte dining, along with an open kitchen and raw bar where you can chat with the in-house “oyster shuckers” and throw back a few cold “brewskies” on the first floor. The second level is perfect for small groups or couples with a bit more privacy, while still maintaining the “beachy” atmosphere.
The menu has a bevy of seafood-laden pastas, soups, salads, sharing plates and platters including their famous Seafood Tower with crab, scallops, oysters, clams, and mussels which is always a show stopper. We started off with the raw oysters which included the Iwagaki (Giant of the Sea) from the deep cold waters of the Japan Sea. Large enough to be cut into 4 pieces and is very meaty, but clean and briny with a somewhat sweet flesh. We also enjoyed the Church Point oysters which are tide-tumbled in southern Puget Sound (USA) along with the “button shaped” Agate Pass oysters which are also tide tumbled in baskets. These were delightfully firm and meaty without being too salty and can be best enjoyed when washed down with a bottle Chereau de la Chesnaie Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie, 2013 from Loire France. On the night of our visit, we had a choice of 7 wild fish to choose from. You get to pick your fish which is reasonably priced between 200-600 baht and then choose your side dish for another 150 baht. My favorites without a doubt were the Albino White Salmon w/ Charred Corn Salad, Tomato, Feta, Chili & Lime Dressing. This Alaskan fish was seared to perfection with crispy skin, juicy flesh, and the taste is a slightly more subtle version of the traditional salmon I was used to. I also really enjoyed the “Ike Jime” Trigger Fish which is line caught in Bali. Served over a simple bed of pasta, this amazing fish has translucent flesh that when cooked it has a look that is similar to monkfish or shark with an evocative clean and light flavor. If you prefer a rich and decadent fish, go for Wild Alaskan “Copper River” Sockeye Salmon w/ Barley Risotto, Edamame & Tomato Confit. We enjoyed this with a red wine such as Clearwater Cove Pinot Noir, 2016 from New Zealand. Although you will also find some additional items on the menu such as the Free Range Ichiban Pork Chop and a few desserts, what really makes The Oyster Bar special is the seafood. If you want it “fresh, fair, and delectable” look no further. It’s not just fish and seafood that tastes amazing, it is also their philosophy and social commitments that make it a “guilt free” dining experience you won’t soon forget.