West coast oysters? East coast oysters? Aren’t all oysters the same? The simple answer- no, not at all. The location where the oysters grew will change the taste of the oyster and also how they look. Crazy right? While we could actually write a whole book on the differences between East coast and West coast oysters, let’s start by taking a look at the main differences.
We’ll begin by evaluating the appearance of West coast oysters versus East coast oysters. You can actually tell where the oyster is from just by looking at it. Do you have a round oyster with rough, fluted edges in front of you? Then you are looking at a West coast oyster. If you would describe your oyster as having a smooth, tear drop shape with a more narrow base, then you have an East Coast oyster. Easy enough, right?! Oysters from West coast = rough and round, East coast = long and smooth.
So what about the difference in flavors in an oyster? Depending on which coast the oyster grew will greatly affect the taste as each oyster is growing in very different water (oysters filter water in and out through their shells constantly which, of course, effects their flavor). The east coast oysters are typically salty, briny and have strong mineral tastes. And west coast oysters, while they can also range in salinity, are much sweeter than their East coast counterpart. Therefore, while the flavor will depend on soooo much more than just East coast versus West cost, we can generalize it by saying East coast = salty, West Coast = Sweet.
For now, we will skip all the subtle differences and nuances between East coast and West coast oysters and stick with the most obvious distinction- they taste different and look different. Which you prefer to eat is completely up to your personal preference. Me? I’ll take a big plate of both! East Coast? West Coast? Can’t we all just get along?