RAW Oyster Bar on the Bay beachfront is all about the freshest of seafood and sushi - plus weekend and seasonal specials. This new venue is perfect for a quick bite and drink or a satisfying feast. Did we say fresh?
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Lisa Monti and Ellis Anderson
Just inside RAW’s door at the head of the long bar is a bed of ice where plump oysters on the half shell, cooked crab legs and lobster tails rest while an oyster shucker nearby pries open bivalves and a sushi chef creates specialties to order. Customers can sit at the bar or at high top tables along the opposite brick wall. There’s also a bit of patio seating, which is in high demand when weather cooperates.
The RAW menu - listed by columns of food and drinks - is packed with a generous selection of oysters, boiled and chilled seafood and abundant sushi. Check the chalkboard for specials like Maine lobsters available on weekends.
General manager Drew Tomaszewski says RAW set out to become the best sushi place on the coast, and the key to making that happen was finding and hiring the top sushi chefs.
RAW’s chefs work for hours ahead of opening each day, cooking rice and prepping the fresh components for selections such the Ring of Salmon with blue crab and snow crab wrapped in fresh salmon and the Jalapeno Poppin' Spicy Tuna signature Roll with tuna, cream cheese, fresh jalapeno lightly tempura fried and topped with sriracha, eel sauce and wasabi mayo.
Our party of three cut a swath across the menu to get a good sampling of the offerings. We started with a shared plate of smoked swordfish dip and another with BBQ shrimp in rich sauce made for dipping with the accompanying French bread.
The photogenic Tuna Poke with chunks of tuna and avocado heaped into a martini glass topped with seaweed salad tasted as good as it looked. The house sushi rolls with spicy salmon were another hit.
We also went for the Beach Bum Roll, RAW’s most popular: the snow crab with “crunchies and cream cheese” topped with spicy mayo and eel sauce was a winner. Every dish we tried tasted fresh and was appealing to the eye, plus service was first rate.
RAW sells fresh local bivalves, of course, but also premium ones from such sources as Murder Point, Ala., to give diners a chance to try prized oysters from out-of-state waters.
The oysters at RAW are roasted (not charbroiled as is common). Drew says the roasting makes the oysters consistently good and the cooking time is quicker. Customers find that to their liking, he said.
The classically roasted oysters are prepared with roasted garlic and Parmesan butter, lemon and parsley. There’s also a spicy Diablo version, Southwestern Mexi-Cali oysters and Stella Bleu, again with roasted garlic and Parmesan butter plus bleu cheese and bacon.
Drew says RAW’s food menu remains true to popular items but also offers seasonal items to keep the selections interesting and fresh. It’s a practice that keeps customers returning for the oysters and sushi and weekend specials. “We’re not afraid to change the menu when we get an opportunity to put new things on it,” he says.
RAW’s drink menu ranges from Champagne and sparkling wines to whites, roses and reds to sake, beer and some creative cocktails.
RAW is that rare place you can stop in for a quick bite or an extended grazing session on seafood fresh from the source and sushi freshly prepared.