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Hog Island Kumamotos vs. XS sweetwaters

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I need to purchase a bushel of oysters for family members who are huge oyster fans. My husband and I have been trying to get out to Hog Island in S/F to do a side-by-side tasting, but we've both been working tons of OT, so I thought I'd ask fellow CHs to weigh in.

The person who answered the phone at their farm in Marshall described the Kumamotos as rich & buttery and the sweetwaters as minerally & sweet. Which variety do you prefer and why? Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. Kumamotos, about half of my reasoning is that I can shell them really fast. They are richer and butterier(is that a word?) and they fit in my mouth really well. I would not turn up my nose at the sweetwaters , though.

    1. Kumies or olympias...Olympias are just SUUUUUPER small, so lots of work, but well worth it.

      1. It's more fun to buy several types. Though I always look for Kumamotos.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ThirstyReader

          I would purchase both if I could, so we could do a side-by-side tasting. Unfortunately, I have to purchase an entire bushel (10 dozen!) in order to get them at a discounted price. It sounds like most people are leaning towards Kumamotos. Ease of opening is definitely a factor, since my poor husband will probably be the one opening the entire bushel.

          Wally, I loved the comment about the Kumamots "fitting in your mouth really well, lol." Thanks for the input!

          1. re: cvhound

            If you must have just one type, get the Kumamotos. Put your order in early, because they're typically the first type to sell out, but if you have some reserved you wouldn't need to worry.

            If they have any olympias, grab a dozen. They're intensely briney, native to our area, and could be a treat for serious oyster lovers but they're too much for some folks so I wouldn't get only olympias.

            1. re: SteveG

              We're definitely placing an advance order. I like your suggestion about grabbing a few dozen olympias in addition to the Kumamotos. My father is of the belief that one can never have too many oysters to eat! I took my parents to Hog Island's farm in Marshall a few years ago. We purchased over 100 oysters (can't remember what type, but we bought 100 of one type and then a few dozen of various other kinds) and I think he consumed more than 6 dozen by himself!

              1. re: SteveG

                Agreed, my favorites are the Kumamotos and Olympias, and both are very small yet flavorful. Both are always at the bar at Oxbow in Napa, though the Kumi's are local to Hog Island.

          2. We made it out to Hog Island's oyster stand at the Saturday FBFM today. We sampled 16 oysters side-by-side, 8 Kumamotos and 8 sweeetwaters. By the time we got there (around 11:30am), they were sold out of the Olympias. They had clams today for $6/lb.

            The oysters outside were $2/each vs $1.50/each inside (can't remember the vendor, but not Hog Island). The ones inside were from WA. We didn't sample any, but we thought it was interesting that the ones from WA were cheaper than the local ones.

            Both hubby and I definitely preferred the Kumamotos to the sweetwaters. I don't know if I'd describe our oysters as "rich and buttery," but the Kumamots definitely tasted much milder to us than the sweetwaters. They also tasted were less sharp and briney, so maybe that's why people describe them as "rich-tasting?" We were shocked, howerver, when we saw the size of the tiny Kumamoto oysters. They were literally half the size of the extra small sweetwaters! Suddenly, 120 Kumamotos didn't sound like a whole lot of oysters for a crowd of oyster fans.

            So we're now leaning towards ordering a bushel of extra small sweetwaters and either a half or whole bushel of Kumamotos. The sweetwaters reminded me more of the Gulf Coast oysters I grew up eating in Houston, so I think my dad would prefer those to the tiny Kumamotos. The price differential between the two is $30/bushel ($90 for the extra small sweeters vs $120/bushel for the Kumamotos). We also confired with the folks at the Hog Island Oyster stand that the Kumamotos are indeed easier to open than the sweetwaters.