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Dec 9, 2008 04:36 PM

Surf Clams at R&G Lounge?

Seems like months ago Melanie Wong wrote a little paean to their excellence, so when I was there shortly after I asked about them. The waiter claimed no knowledge of their existence, and tried to steer me to Manila clams in black bean sauce. I'm hoping to go there Thurs. night for a sedate birthday dinner and thought I might try again. Is it a seasonal thing? Was the waiter trying to save them all for himself? They sure looked good in the picture(which I showed the waiter to no avail, still total denial). What is the Chinese name? Any advice appreciated.

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  1. Hmm, sorry I can't be much help here as I don't know the Chinese name for this species. There may be a season, as I've never seen them on the printed menu at any of the many restaurants where I've ordered them. They're usually suggested by the waiter, on the specials board, or we see another table ordering them. Over this last year, I had them many times at different places between March and September. Since then, I haven't been eating much at the type of restaurant that would serve them so don't know if they're available now or not. Bummer that the photo trick didn't work. They are large, one half shell takes up a saucer-size dish, and usually you order one per person. Some times they're called queen's clams or Boston clams.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Is it possible that this is a pismo clam. The size and description sounds like it.

      1. re: ML8000

        No, surf clams are not geoduck clams.

      2. They're commonly listed on menus as "gui-fei pong." "gui-fei" denotes highest ranking imperial concubine and "pong" is clam.

        The clam is about four inches long and about three inches wide. It is much larger than a manila or cockle clam but is smaller than a Geoduck clam and I believe found in the Pacific northwest.

        I am very surprise that the waiter at R & G could not acknowledge. It should be on the menu on any upscale Chinese restaurant and even some lesser irestaurants n season.

        4 Replies
        1. re: CYL

          Not to hijack this thread, but to support what CYL said, I'm pretty sure I've had them numerous times at Great Wall in Berkeley. They weren't on the menu, but were a nightly special. Not cheap, but very fresh tasting and delicately seasoned with ginger and garnished with thin slivers of raw green onion.

          1. re: cvhound

            We had them at Great Wall when we had a chowdown there many, many moons ago:

          2. re: CYL

            It's very likely that the waiter did not know the English name of said clam.

            1. re: CYL

              Thanks for the name, CYL, and our waitress confirmed same. We ordered one tonight at East Ocean in Alameda. It's on the separate menu page that lists the fresh seafood available and the prices. I think it's called giant clam and is priced at $5.50/lb. We just had one as an app,steamed and topped wtih garlic sauce, costing $7. I prefer it sliced thinner than the style here, but other than that, it was just fine. So, if there's a season for this clam, it is available now.

              East Ocean Seafood
              1713 Webster St, Alameda, CA 94501

            2. Is it this Atlantic coast clam?
              Wikipedia notes it is farm grown in Japan.

              1 Reply
              1. re: wolfe

                I grew up on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, during the 1940s. Everyone was a smoker then, and the abundance of the surf clamshells made fine, disposalble ashtrays. Occasionally, a whole clam would wash up on the beach, those did not an eatable aroma to them.

                I started eating raw clams when I was seven years old, but the clam shacks that we went to never served the Atlantic Surf Clam. Little Necks and Cherrystones were it. Quahogs were bought at the fish market, and only used for chowder, or minced with onions and parsley, s&p, then put back into the shell and baked.