Inside this shell is a chewy bit of meat that tastes like the sea. * Zax: Chef Brooke Williamson serves delicate cockles and sweet clams in a wonderfully aromatic clam and lemon grass broth, with a wedge of lemon on the side. (Steamed Manila clams and New Zealand cockles, $11.) Zax restaurant, 11604 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, (310) 571-3800.
* Cafe Zoolu: Lots of mussels and Manila clams come in a broth packed with herbs and aromatic vegetables. Hot sourdough comes on the side. (Steamed shellfish, $13.) Cafe Zoolu, 860 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-6825.
* Il Sole: Manila clams ( vongole ) in white wine come by themselves or on spaghetti. Occasionally, clams and mussels in a garlicky tomato sauce accompany sea bass. And then there's a cioppino full of clams and other seafood. ( Vongole vapore , $12.50; spaghetti con le vongole veraci , $16; special sea bass, $17.50; cioppino, $24.50.) Il Sole, 8741 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 657-1182.
* The Hump: Giant clam is a meaty, chewy mollusk available here as sushi or sashimi. Steamed Asari clams come in miso soup or sake and dashi broth. (Giant clam, market price; steamed clams, $10; miso soup with clams, $5.) The Hump, Santa Monica Airport, 3221 Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica, (310) 313-0977.
* Delmonico's Lobster House: If you want something more filling than Manila or Littleneck clams on the half shell, have the steamed clams in a garlicky, lemony white wine broth, perfect for dipping crusty bread into. (Manila clams on the half shell, $10.95; clams in a garlic white wine sauce, $10.95.) Delmonico's Lobster House, 133 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 854-9077; 16358 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 986-0777.
* King's Fish House: Littlenecks on the half shell come with horseradish and homemade cocktail sauce. You can also choose cioppino, linguine in clam sauce or a New England clam bake of lobster, corn, clams and mussels. (Clams on the half shell (1/2 dozen), $7.95; cioppino, $16.95; linguine and clam sauce; $11.95, New England clam bake, $29.95.) King's Fish House, 4798 Commons Way, Calabasas, (818) 225-1979; 100 W. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 432-7463; 24001 Avenida de la Carlota, Laguna Hills; (949) 586-1515, 1521 W. Katella Ave., Orange, (714) 771-6655.