This is what Walterboro tastes like

by | May 2, 2019 5:00 pm

Last Updated: May 1, 2019 at 11:32 am

The hungry faces lined East Washington Srett, each eagerly waiting for the gates to open and begin a foray into local culinary nirvana. This is Walterboro’s chance to display itself on the culinary stage in a part of the world where expectations are high. Touted as a main event of, and precursor to, the Rice Festival, Taste of Walterboro brings together some of the best food that our area has to offer. Restaurants, caterers, dessert purveyors, farms and up-and-coming student chefs from CCHS and TCTC were all represented.
My first stop at the event was a visit with Kyle Beasley and Nick Stratton, who have recently rebranded their sauces. Now known as “Kyle and Nick’s Lowcountry Sauces,” three new bottles have been added to the existing lineup. Smokin’ Mango, Wild Blueberry Bog, and Orange Tangerine Fish Glaze now round out their offerings. I kept coming back to the fish glaze, its bright and citrusy notes would be a knockout paired with the delicate flavor and texture of grilled swordfish. The sauces are all natural and gluten free, so they present a good alternative for intolerance sufferers.
The next table over made me do a double take. Authentic Thai food? In Walterboro? The answer is yes, Thai food in Walterboro. The operation, known as YYG Services is helmed by Johnny Evans and his wife, Oy. He grew up here in Colleton County, she hails from Bangkok. Over the course of their tenure, they have worked as restaurant management and executive chef, respectively, in cities as diverse as Charlotte and Denver before coming home to Walterboro.
YYG served up spotted bass Thai fried rice, a fried rice salad served on shrimp crackers and dirty rice Thai egg rolls. My bar for Southeast Asian food is quite high — it’s my comfort food. YYG’s ranked with some of the best I’ve tasted. All of the minute flavors were there: the nose of the fish sauce, the nip of the chili, the drone of the fresh herbs. I was told they toned down the heat so everyone could enjoy. I can’t wait to taste these dishes made close to nuclear. Thai chili is the spinal tap of the cooking word. Sure it’ll numb your face, but it amps the flavor up to 11. The couple is mulling over plans to have a Thai food truck in town, and I sure hope they do. This is the kind of food Walterboro deserves.
When polled, the crowd proclaimed they also loved the Thai food. Another name that kept coming up was Jimmy Fitts, a local catering company. Their creations brought me right back to the Lowcountry with savory shrimp and grits, as well as barbecue pork. I’ve yet to meet a dish of shrimp and grits I didn’t like, and theirs was exceptional. I can’t imagine the spread they bring to a country wedding.
Also of note was Williams Seafood, on hand with their famous fried blue crab, sausage and potatoes, and garlic corn. Their food is really, really good. Just as important is quality of service. Every interaction with a Williams Seafood staff member has left me with a smile, whether at the shop or at events. Their vibe is always upbeat, and they take the time to chat you up, especially if you enjoy food. To answer all who asked: No, I haven’t tried the seafood rice, and yes, that will be rectified soon.
If the tone and tenor of Taste of Walterboro is indicative of things to come, I’d say that Walterboro is tasting mighty fine.

(When he’s not planning an epic barbecue crawl across Colleton County, Josh Taylor can be reached at culinaryanthropology@gmail.com)

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