Time to say: Sake to me
The clams at Ita-Cho are steamed in sake, rather than water, and the sake blends with the Manila clam juices to make a light, aromatic, slightly dry broth. The clams are served in a lovely wide bowl, in a portion large enough to share with a friend or two. If you prefer a more traditional rendition of steamed clams, you can order them in butter broth instead. (Steamed clams, $8.50.)
Ita-Cho, 7311 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 938-9009.
In the style of New England
When you think of summertime in New England, you naturally think of steamed clams. Menemsha, a Venice restaurant nostalgically named after a town on Martha’s Vineyard, is the place to re-create that experience. It serves a pound of littleneck clams steamed in a flavorful broth of white wine, fresh herbs and clam juice. They come with drawn butter and lemon wedges on the side. (Steamed clams, $18.)
Menemsha, 822 Washington Blvd., Venice, (310) 822-2550.
A way to get your veggies, too
The sophisticated version of steamed clams served at the Lobster makes a good appetizer. You’ll get your vegetables -- including roasted tomatoes, red peppers and chopped spinach -- along with garlic, fresh herbs, apple-wood-smoked bacon and 15 Manila clams to an order. The kitchen throws all the ingredients together and sautes them, then butter is added and the pot is covered for the clams to steam. The colorful dish that results is served on two toasted pieces of garlic French bread. Finally, the pot is deglazed with white wine and the juices are poured over the whole thing. (Steamed clams, $12.)
The Lobster, 1602 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 458-9294.
White wine and a whole lot more
At Cobras & Matadors, garlic, shallots and parsley are sauteed in olive oil. When the pan starts to smoke, they throw in Manila clams, and as the clams open, white wine, butter and lemon juice go in. These sweet clams are addicting ... watch out. (Steamed clams, $12.)
Cobras & Matadors, 7615 W. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 932-6178.
-- Jessica Strand