HOODSPORT, Wash. — An old bank in Hoodsport is dealing in a new kind of currency: oysters.
The Fjord Oyster Bank is a fresh seafood restaurant featuring the shellfish found in nearby Hood Canal waterways.
"The fact that you can come here and go to pretty much any one of these public beaches and you can harvest your own oysters and clams, and they're clean and fresh and they do so much for our environment - they clean up this whole waterway,” said the restaurant’s owner Rachel Hansen.
She and her family renovated the town’s bank building, established in 1973. They transformed the vault into a gift shop and to-go items are served from the drive-through banking window. Hansen wants the restaurant to showcase both fresh seafood and the surrounding area.
"To have people come and have a really good meal after they've been on a hike, it's so satisfying,” she said.
The menu was created by legendary Mason County chef (and champion oyster shucker) Xinh Dwelley. She ran a famous restaurant in Shelton for years.
"Everybody came there. Anthony Bourdain has been there; Julia Child has been there,” Hansen said.
A battle with cancer led Dwelley to close her doors a few years ago. Now in her 70s, she still shucks with lightning speed and welcomed the idea of cooking again.
"I have a lot of old customers, they found me and they're really happy I'm still here,” Dwelley said. "That's what makes my heart go kathump, kathump, kathump, you know?"
Tom and Jan Balaban are longtime admirers who visited The Fjord Oyster Bank for the first time.
"We're glad we were able to find her here,” Tom said. "It's just the best taste. You can't beat that curry flavor, the geoduck or the fresh seafood. It's just wonderful."
Some of Dwelley’s longtime specialties are available, like geoduck sashimi and ceviche, fresh crab cakes, steamed clams, coconut prawns made from scratch, and oysters from three local waterways served both raw and baked.
She’s still battling cancer, but Dwelley said cooking for others makes her feel fulfilled.
"If you have a hard day, if I make you happy for five minutes, forget about the hard day,” she said. “Then that's what makes me happy."
It's also what makes The Fjord Oyster Bank a destination – a small restaurant with a big mission to share everything the Hood Canal has to offer.
"It's so wonderful to see people really see the bright side and the unique side and the authentic side of our community,” Hansen said.
The Fjord Oyster Bank is located at 24341 US-101 in Hoodsport, and is open Monday – Wednesday from 6:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Thursday – Saturday from 6:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
KING 5's Evening celebrates the Northwest. Contact us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Email.