When I saw the sign “Best Clam Chowder of 2010,” that stopped my track while walking around Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey.

I was a bit disappointed when the day I arrived at the wharf they told me a storm was coming, so all the whale watching boats canceled their tours. I walked up and down Fisherman’s Wharf wondering what should I do next. Then, displays of food outside the restaurants there suddenly looks very tempting, along with people offering free clam chowder samples for the crowd to taste. Then I saw the sign…..

The suspect’s name is Old Fisherman’s Grotto, a family owned restaurant since 1950s. The key evidence is their clam chowder. I was suspicious of how amazing their clam chowder can be. After all, I am from San Francisco, where they got some decent chowder business going on there at Pier 39.

I ordered a lot as one person, with the intention that I will be taking out the leftovers for midnight hunger snacks. I think the waitress had wide eyes as she heard my order. I sat there and thought “bring it on ~

I ordered clam chowder in a bread bowl. I have to confess, I enjoyed their chowder. The clam chowder here at Old Fisherman’s Grotto is a bit thicker than others I have tried, yet the smell just embraced my nostrils like no other. They also contains more and larger actual shrimp & clam pieces in their soup than other places I have been to. I definitely feel that you really get what you paid for.

The appetizer that made me took a deep breath with happy, gleaming eyes.

The shrimps were huge! Not your regular tiny, malnutrition ones in the market ~ And the Grotto did it justice ~ The shrimps were juicy, tender, perfectly flavored so it contains its original taste while the spices just enhances the flavor. (I secretly gave it extra points because not many restaurants can cook the shrimps right)

Usually fried and pan-fried food can be a bit too much for my stomach, but this time the Grotto did something that made such prepared items rather refreshing. The crab cake here comes with mango toppings. It might look like a weird combo for some, but I enjoyed the mixture. The crab cake was soft, and the mango topping gave it a tropical twist.

Then there was the fried calamari. The calamari pieces here are fried to perfection: not over cooked, tender, and even contains calamari’s original flavor. It is not salted or seasoned, if needed you can add your own pepper and salt.

I am not done yet….

The half crab entrée came….completed with butter dip and wet napkins on the side for your. To be honest the butter dip was rather unnecessary, I could have eaten the crab without it…I actually enjoyed their yam rice with mayonnaise that came as part of the dish, it complemented the seafood on the plate well!!

At the end of my meal, to my delight the waitress gave me a rose, and it definitely made me smile =)

I came on a weekday, it was late in the afternoon, the sky was gloomy, not many people were in sight, but my stomach was very, very happy.

Old Fisherman’s Grotto Website: http://www.oldfishermansgrotto.com/index.htm

Address: 39 Fisherman’s Wharf . Monterey, California 93940