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Sea Urchin – am i missing out?

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Hi chowers, i have only tried this once, at Sushi 930, figuring the quality of his other fish was high so this might be a good idea. All I know is some people love it and others hate it just as much, my impression was near gagging, was very musty tasting and stuck with me for days, the texture wasn't an issue though it was served on rice, what I'm wondering is if I got not so good or even bad Uni, and if so, where i can try a good one. I often see it included on tasting menu's and I don't want to fear it showing up on my plate if I just had bad luck with it so far...thanks in advance...

Cheers

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  1. I'm definitely in the "love it" camp. The first time I had uni it was very fresh, actually the chef basically cracked the shell and served it to us. That was the ultimate in creamy, briny melt in your mouth flavour.

    Edit: That said I remember a lot of people at this dinner didn't like it. I also have a vague recollection of scavenging it off my dining companions plates. Chowhounds have no shame....

    I have never again had it that good but it absolutely not taste musty and I suspect the stuff you had was past it's prime. I've a good uni at Japango and Nami.

    1. I love uni! though admittedly i was hesitant to try it because of the texture, the taste was incredible. creamy, slightly sweet even...mmmm. I'd definitely give it another try, as Mila suggests, Japango and Nami should be trustworthy, there's other places, but unfortunately I can't think of any at the moment (it's not something I eat that often, I like to make it a special occasion item)

      1. The phrase "stuck with me for days" makes me think it was rancid. Uni is rather rich, but the flavor shouldn't be strong.

        1 Reply
        1. re: graydyn

          Yes, "musty" is not an adjective I would apply to FRESH uni! If you like other roes and don't find them icky, you should have no problem with uni.

          A responsible sushi chef should alert you if the uni is not absolutely fresh. Not so responsible ones should tell the truth when asked. Bad ones wouldn't know themselves!

        2. We had some gorgeous, fresh uni at Starfish... served still in its shell (although I'm not sure this is a regular offering).

          Personally, I don't care for the stuff but will try it every couple of years. Mr. Rab, on the other hand, loves sea urchin and eats it for breakfast when we're in Japan (ew).

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rabbit

            I'd eat it for breakfast twice weekly too if I could. But in my experience it is a love it or hate it kind of food. "Do you like uni" was a regular question from junior high students when I was teaching English in Japan years ago. Apparently the love it/hate it thing extends to denizens of the Land of Sushi as well (even when it's half price :))

          2. Aaaah the cream puff of sushi. Highly recommended for the sensous experience. No, it should never be musty. I've had good versions at Take Sushi, Daio, and Kumai. Omi never served it. Zen doesn't seem to include it in their omakase although that may just be luck of the draw.

            1. I haven't had sea urchin at a Japanese/sushi restaurant, but the one time I had it at Jean George (in NY), HOLY MOTHER it was AMAZING. I love, love, love how creamy and rich it is. He served it on pumpernickel "melba toast" with the sea urchin glazed with yuzu and a jalapeno slice. So good. I would def say give it another try.

              1. Whether or not I like the uni has almost become my personal test of a Japanese restaurant. Although even though I've had bad ones, I haven't had one that stuck with me for days...perhaps next time come home and gargle some mouthwash...? A really good uni that comes to mind was served at Hiro - it was practically sweet!

                1 Reply
                1. re: gijoeanne

                  The place to buy Japanese style seafood and especially uni is TARO FISH at J-Town Market, Steeles east of Woodbine. Many Japanese restaurants, if they are worth their salt, order their fish from this place. I've lived 4 years in Japan, travelled and eaten extensively AND scuba dived to retrieve fresh uni which I prepared myself. Uni is an acquired taste and not everyone likes it. The most decadent dish I've had was at a Japanese-French wedding party in Tokyo where the caterer made lobster medaillons with a uni cream sauce. 14 years later, I'm still thinking of it...

                2. I'm with you, my friend. My Chinese mother-in-law used to prepare this on a regular basis, and I never enjoyed it (had to eat it though). I enjoy most Asian food, but chicken feet, durian, sea urchin, and balut are steps on which I will not again tread!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: KevinB

                    What dishes did your Chinese mother-in-law prepare ? You know, sea urchin is never a popular ingradient with Chinese food, except fisherman knows how to enjoy it with a few good dishes.

                  2. Aoyama, Cafe Michi, Japango.... Just ask the Japanese restaurant to see if they have good fresh sea urchin before ordering.

                    The worst fresh sea urchin I had is at Nice. Basically, sea urchin is not that great in France. Had some bad fresh sea urchin at Starfish, probably because it was September, not a good month for Sea Urchin. Different season eat different kinds of Sea Urchin, just like Lychee. Best one I had of course at Japan and cheap too !

                    1. I've tried it about 4 times, I love it at times and don't so much other times. I've never had it on the shell, I've only had it on sushi and sometimes it doesn't seem so fresh but I've never been near gagging.

                      1. The first time I had uni I hated it. I didn't eat it again for years. Finally, I was talked into trying it again, and was served it by an itame I trusted.

                        Big mistake. It's amazing, but so expensive. It is obvious the first piece was bad. My wallet cringes each and every time I know they have it...

                        1. Thanks for all the input! I will try it again, and from some of the descriptions I'm really looking forward to it....

                          Cheers!

                          1. If it is not fresh, you will never enjoy it. I love it.

                            1. Needs to be fresh like right out of the shell (?) Is it a shell? I dunno, other than I love it and could eat it all day if it's fresh. The worst is when you try to introduce it to someone and you get less than fress uni...that ticks me off! Anyways, raw is best, but when it's cooked right, it can be amazing as well.

                              1. best place hands down that i've had uni was at kaji.

                                every other place pales in comparison, including many of my japan dining experiences (mind you we were a bit conservative on the dough we were willing to dish out).

                                it's creamy, delicate, a little pungent in a way but also quite sweet (almost fruity in some ways). the not so best ones always had a little extra tang of ammonia and also similar to a soft creamy cheese that's just reaching overripeness (i get this flavour everytime i eat st andre on the finish).

                                uni is a flavour that follows me for days, good or bad. it's just so unique. there is a possibility that you may just not like it, but for the record, i haven't had good uni from sushi 930 so far after two attempts.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                  Nice. My best was an omakase lunch at Shiro in Vancouver. I never order uni, cuz when it's wrong it is so very wrong. But once I get into an omakase at a sushi bar, if I feel I can trust the chef I'll ask about the uni.

                                  1. re: childofthestorm

                                    Uni is not in season. It is in season in winter.

                                    1. re: katana750

                                      Yes, for North America sea urchin, but not for Japanese sea urchin.

                                      1. re: skylineR33

                                        which restaurants have Japanese Uni?

                                        1. re: katana750

                                          Hashimoto. North purple uni, bafun uni, etc ... depends on season if they have it on their kaiseki. Summer is a good season for Japanese uni or uni you find in Asia.

                                2. I've been trying to "get" Sea Urchin for years. I've tried it all over and understand that it's suppose to taste like "ice cream of the sea". I still don't get it.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                    Uni is an exquisite example of just how delicate the Japanese palete is. Close your eyes and take your time with it.

                                  2. I'm probably spoiled now, but the first time I had uni was at Sushi Kaji and it was stupendously amazing. Creamy and very, very rich tasting. I don't know what bad uni tastes like, but my guess is that's what you had.