Our cheeks burned cold from the ocean winds. Seeking temporary shelter, we stepped into a large, if somewhat basic, seaside shack where a harvest of Ebisu oysters fresh from the waters surrounding the Itoshima peninsula were being furiously cleaned. Here, dozens of ageing Japanese men and women dressed in colourful windbreakers are hacking away at gnarled clusters of the bivalves, chipping away at rocky layers of barnacles with a rhythmic precision.
Situated an hour’s drive away from Fukuoka City, the Karatomari Ebisu Oyster Farm is where chef Richard Ekkebus has been exclusively sourcing the deliciously plump oysters served at Amber for the last two and a half years. It’s also here where we taste fresh specimens as big as our palms. “Look here,” says our guide Kenji Fujima, as he gestures towards a gleaming oyster, which has been freshly unlocked with the flick of a knife. “It’s still alive.” Sure enough, a tiny but just discernible pulse trembles through the milky white flesh. Ekkebus later describes its minerality and meatiness as being absolutely unparalleled, and he’s right—the Ebisu oyster is a thing of beauty, borne from an innovative technique that sees them grow on lengthy ropes hanging 30 meters deep in clean, cool oceans.