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Need Uni Pep-talk

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I'll be taking my SO for a special omakase b-day dinner this Friday and I have a sneaking suspicion that uni will be one of the courses. I've had uni exactly once before - 8 years ago I tried it and had a really horrible experience. I have a pretty solid constitution, but the minute I put it in my mouth I had an involuntary physical reaction - my mouth got really weird and thought I'd lose my lunch at the table (I did not, but it took a lot of willpower) - almost like I'd put something poisonous in my mouth. I've never experienced that kind of reaction to any food before and it happened so fast that no taste even registered. One other person at the table (who had eaten uni previously) had a similar immediate reaction.

In the years since, I have come to believe that the uni I tried was bad and I am finally ready to give it another shot. Still, I am nervous.

The place we're going to is nice and people rave about the freshness of their seafood and the expertise of their chef. I figure that if I am going to like uni anywhere, it would be there.

Even so, I'd love a pep-talk. How many people love uni? Has anyone had a similar experience to mine with bad uni? I am really hoping that it was just bad uni I was served and the reaction doesn't repeat this time!

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  1. I first had uni at a sushi bar and had a reaction much like your own. Relax - it doesn't actually taste like that. It had been thawed too many days before. Later I ate it straight from the ocean at a sea urchin festival, and it was delicious. It was sweet and salty and firmer than I'd had at the sushi bar, which was skanky. However, if where you are going uses frozen uni, you may want to simply request omikase with no uni. It certainly wouldn't be the first time. You could even call ahead.

    1 Reply
    1. re: almansa

      Thanks! That is exactly what I was hoping to hear.

    2. Was it the texture that weirded you out? It is a strange squooshy sort of thing. I've had uni before and found it interesting, but I don't particularly love it.

      In my case, it's liver. I like the taste of it, but the texture will turn me off immediately if it's not cooked just so.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mogo

        I am not sure what it was. The whole thing happened so quickly - it was like my mouth started tingling and salivating and I felt like I was going to be quickly and violently ill. Honestly, I don't remember anything about the taste or texture - just my physical response.

        I don't usually get weirded out by textures or most tastes (I did eat salmon liver and that was really disgusting, but that flavor was so strong...).

        I figure that I don't have to love uni, but I want to give it another shot and at least get it down this time.

        1. re: akq

          I had uni for the first time about 8 months ago. I didn't like it much, although I didn't have the reaction you had. I had it again 3 months ago..same wonderful place...and I loved it. I did sprinkle just a bare tad of wasabi mixed with soya on it..just a drop.

      2. For me it's that third time's the charm rule that applies to so much: hated it the first time, didn't hate it but didn't get it, either, the second time, loved it the third time.

        So if this is your second, it hopefully won't be as bad as the first. Just think about the third time as you gulp.

        1. That is a wierd/scary reaction, that would definitely prohibit me from eating it again. Could you possibly have an allergy? Or perhaps the uni you had was not prepared properly.

          I really like uni. I too had it for the first time picked straight from the ocean, in front of me. So, I always feel like I am eating the ocean if that makes any sense. I love to dive and when I eat uni, it brings me back down to a dive. I'm such a romantic...

          But if you don't like it, don't eat it!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Mag454

            Yeah. I don't think it was an allergic reaction because I do have some food allergies and my reaction to those things is different. I think the uni was probably spoiled or something.

            I am totally jealous hearing about all of you who eat it straight out of the sea!

            I totally agree about not eating it if I don't like it, but since I can't even tell you what it tastes like, I want to give it another try.

          2. I too have had mixed results in my Uni eperiences, but what I can tell you is that I have a total dislike for uni that come sout of the box ata Japanese restaurants, but I LOVE fresh uni out of the shell. There's no comparison. Good luck.