Eastern NC at It’s Best

It’s Mah Jongg week in Greenville. My friend Nikki who organized Greenville’s first Mah Jongg week just a few months ago did it again for this week. Not only did she fill two classes at the Greenville Country club, she invited me to stay at her house, which is so much nicer than staying at the nicest Hilton in town and that is saying something.

Classes went great today, especially since they started with a class of returning students who I already know and adore. The class of new players are going to do well, but not until tomorrow. There is so much to learn you just can’t take it all in the first day.

After classes finished I came to Nikki’s beautiful house where I met her charming husband Gray. After some visiting we got in the car and picked up Nikki’s sister-in-law Kara, who is one of my favorites and Gray drove us to Williamston, NC to the Sunny Side Oyster bar. This is as Eastern a North Carolina place as you can go.

We walked into the big bar area where you wait for a place at the 32 seat oyster bar. The bar area was three or four times the size of the eating area. We were lucky that it is a Monday in January so we only had to wait about 45 minutes. While we did we played the ring game where you are trying to get the ring hanging from the string attached to the ceiling to get caught on the hook on the wall. There was beer and wine, but don’t ask for Prosecco. The bartender told Nikki, “We have saw dust on the floor,” not a Prosecco type of place.

When four seats came available we were seated at the end of the bar. There are no menus, but the placemats had photos of all the shuckers. We did get out picture made with “geezer” who has worked there 52 years.

Justin took our order and was one of our shuckers. Before we even ordered they poured hot sauce made of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and horseradish into cups in front of each of us. They didn’t ask if you wanted it, you just got it because everything they had to eat went with “sauce.”

There were two sleeves of Saltines on the counter that were part of your meal. Justin asked what we wanted. Gray knew, so he ordered. As the only newbie in the foursome I asked what they had. “Oysters, shrimp, scallops and crab legs.”

Kara and I split an half a peck or oysters and a half a pound of shrimp. Those were the smallest portions you could get.

Justin and another shucker brought our buckets of steamed oysters in mere minutes and dumped them into the troughs in front of them. They shucked the oysters and dropped them into tiny bowls right in front of us. Our only utensil was a tiny cocktail fork and we stabbed each oyster and sauced it up before enjoying it.

It was a happy comunial experience between you and your shucker. Just one highlight of coming to Greenville and Nikki and Gray’s hospitality.

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