(San Fran Trip) Swan Oyster Depot – Nob Hill

And so this last post wraps up our final San Fran trip series. On the last morning of our stay, we went to the famous Swan Oyster Depot to get some early seafood for takeout. We decided that it’d just be better to go when it opens so we’re not lining up for hours and wasting our time.

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Impressive display of seafood
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Swan Oyster Depot’s Deliver Truck parked out front

When we got there, they were just opening for business and everyone was very busy shucking, deshelling, and just in general preparing for the busy day they have ahead of them.

We decided to get a couple things to try out a selection of their foods.

First off, tfung wanted one last clam chowder before we left SFO so we got a small, which came with little flower-shaped crackers. The crackers were just placed with no container into the paper bag with the bowl of clam chowder for us to take home. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that exciting since it was in an ugly styrofoam bowl, so we didn’t take a photo of it. The chowder was not bad. It was not too thick (like the Boudin ones) and not too runny. There was lots of clam flavour without any fishy taste. There were potatoes in it which makes me nostalgic of the first clam chowder I’ve ever had (Chunky’s). The soup was still pretty hot even though we had taken it out and it took us at least 20 minutes to get home. Also with the crackers, it was pretty good.

We also got the crab cocktail, which was a bowl (same size as the clam chowder) of deshelled crab meat and cocktail sauce. We originally thought they were going to put the cocktail sauce on the side, but they did not. They literally drowned the delicious, beautiful crab meat in it. We were extremely disappointed at this gesture and honestly I thought they ruined the seafood. The cocktail sauce was too sweet, too thick and just overall gross. We tried to dry off the crab meat in our hotel room with tissue. At one point I thought about using water to rinse it, but we also wanted to hit the Ferry Building Market before we left for the airport so we didn’t.

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A dozen oysters

Finally the star of the meal was definitely the oysters. We were looking forward to these as we had heard good things about them. We ordered just a dozen oysters (their pick), and I actually snagged this cute miniature bottle of tobasco sauce on the way home. The oysteres were put on this cardboard platter, and was wrapped in paper, taped to secure it. I thought it was a pretty simple and efficient way of takeout for shucked oysters. The oysters were good, but still did not match up to the Royal Miyagis we had at the Ferry Building Market. These were not as fresh and sweet as the royal miyagis and many of them had a strong fish taste. Some of them had some sand it in as well. It was decent oysters, but I didn’t think it was the best.

Overall, we thought the hype over Swan Oyster Depot was not true to their products. Their seafood is good, but it’s not amazing. As a seafood specialty store, I would have expected more from them. I do have to say that their speed is excellent, and everyone knows their roles to the T. No one is standing around wondering what the next thing they have to do is, which is essential for a successful food establishment. I do recommend you give it a try, but not if you have to wait a long time for it.

Service: 4/5
Food: 7.7/10
Atmosphere: ~
Price: $20-60 (depends how much you get!)

Swan Oyster Depot on Urbanspoon


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