Lilliwaup, Wash. — Hama Hama Oyster Saloon is just 30 miles west of Seattle as the crow flies. But for those of us without wings, it's a scenic two-hour drive to experience oyster nirvana on Hood Canal.
Fall is the perfect season to make a day trip out to Washington's Olympic Peninsula, says Lissa Monberg, Retail and Marketing Manager for Hama Hama, a farm renowned for its high-quality oysters. "The water's really cold, the maples are starting to turn yellow, and it's just really fun to have a place to create community around oysters," she continues.
Monberg's family has grown and harvested oysters in Washington for five generations. They've run a retail store there since the 70's, but the Hama Hama Oyster Saloon is a recent development.
"We opened the saloon because there wasn't really a place to eat raw oysters up and down hood canal," says Monberg. "It was easier to find a Hood Canal oyster raw in New York City than on the Hood Canal. We saw our customers -- we call them 'car shuckers' because they'd come into the retail store and sit in their car and open oysters -- so we were just like, we have to provide a place for people to come and eat these oysters."
Since 2014, day-trippers from Seattle and Portland have made the foodie pilgrimage to Hama Hama Oyster Saloon for gorgeous Hood Canal views, fresh oysters, good beer and great company - all while enjoying the great outdoors.
"We try to give people the opportunity to do the things that we grew up doing, you know sitting around a campfire eating oysters," says Monberg, "and create a really northwestern experience for them."
Experiences at Hama Hama include special events, from pick-your-own oysters on the beach to Hama Hama Oysterama in April to guest chef appearances on Saturdays. On the day our Evening crew visited Hama Hama Oyster Saloon, Portland-based Chef Sarah Schneider whipped up a seasonal dish that included pickle mustard seed sausage with herbs, clams, fennel, leeks, white wine, Meyer lemons and a little bit of peppers. It smelled heavenly.
"We think this is the perfect way to spend a day," Monberg adds. "You can watch the storms blow down the canal and eat some really good oysters."