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Mori update: Hokkaido Uni

It's been a while since I've been to Mori. I was hoping for a taste of buri belly before the season ended. Alas, Mori was all out. "Come on Tuesday or Friday if you want buri belly," he says. Mental note taken. But he also confirmed that the season was nearing the end.

Tonight we had:

-house-made tofu. Good, but I've had better at izakayas
-Kinemdai in clear broth, topped with japanese pepper leaf, and plum flower. Exquisite and pure. Probably one of the best broths I've had and could go toe to toe with Mori's matsutake dobinmushi.
-tai no konbu jime: tonight, more subtle than previous, but still good
-buri x2. lean, delicious but doesn't scratch the itch if you want buri belly
-big eye toro. silky and very flavorful. Some of the best big eye toro I've had
-blue fin toro. A gorgrous piece of fish marbled at least 50% with large white globules of fat. Stellar.
-sayori. always sweet and top notch
-kohada
-aji
-aori ika with a piece of japanese papper leaf tucked under. The spicy aroma hit even before I bit into the creamy squid. Very nice.
-tako with a generous touch of white pepper to mimic/contrast the previous piece
-mirugai with that amazing nori that Mori serves.
-ikura no shoyu zuke. Delicious. Perfectly brined and sweet. Again, that amazing nori elevates this piece.
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-hokkaido uni
-santa barbara uni

I had previously had this paring back in SF and had preferred the SB uni for its sweetness. Tonight, the hokkaido uni destroyed the SB uni which is always top notch at Mori. The smaller sacs were more dense and even sweeter than the SB uni. Almost like a denser, sweeter custard. Spectacular. It made me realize that the Hokkaido uni I had previously in SF was a few notches below.
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-torched baby barracuda. Good but I think I'm losing my taste for torched kamasu.
-freshly grilled anago. This gets better each time I try it and I swear it's pretty much at Yasuda level.

At this point he asked for requests. Since the bluefin toro was the best piece of fish tonight, I asked for 1 regular and 1 torched. The quality was probably too good for aburi but I couldn't resist a slight char to all that fat. This second piece of bluefin toro was even more spectacular than the first and the aburi toro was lightly grilled and topped with chives and yuzu pepper paste. It was both elegant and stunning in flavor.

I know aburi toro is usually not part of Mori's lineup, but if you see that the toro is of especially high quality that night, ask for it. It's truly sublime.

With 2 beers, tonight's tab was $150pp. About $50pp more than my usual tab but the 2 extra pieces of top quality o-toro and the hokkaido uni probably had something to do with that.

Oh, and go Friday or Tuesday.

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  1. Had some wonderful buri belly at Restaurant Koi in Seal Beach tonight, along w/some wild yellowtail (sorry, didn't write down the name for this one).

    1. Yeah, this pretty much sums up my last meal at Mori Sushi as well. The Hokkaido uni was truly splendid. As a 2nd helping, Mori-san was nice enough to make me a handroll of it with the Saga Nori towards the end of my meal... Magnificently subtle, a mighty taste.

      Nice of you to bring back some great memories. I gotta go again soon.

      1 Reply
      1. re: J.L.

        I had requested a second and third helping of the hokkaido uni but we had the last servings of the night. It's going to haunt me for days...

      2. Agree about the hokkaido uni. I was surprised that I enjoyed it more than the SB version. What was the SF place you went to?

        1 Reply
        1. re: peppermonkey

          Zushi Puzzle.

        2. Had beautiful red snapper and Santa Barbara uni there this week. One of the best batches ever.

          1. Yeah! We went last week, and we were treated to the duo of Uni. I personally prefer the Santa Barbara uni, but the contrast was amazing. That menu is so well curated...

            1 Reply
            1. re: daftpunkxl

              Curated! What a perfect word for the attention and detail of a fine sushi chef's work. Thanks for the smile, daftpunkxl!

            2. Oh gosh this sounds wonderful...thanks for posting.

              1. Funny thing I've been asking every sushi place that I frequent where they get their uni. Here's the results so far
                Urasawa - SB
                Zo - SB
                Mori - Hokkaido & SB
                sushi dokoro kirala - SB
                sasabune - catalina
                nozawa - catalina
                the funny part is that when I asked at sasabune y they chose catalina..he said the water was dirty in SB. When I asked in kirala, they said the water was dirty in catalina. Whatever the case is, I'd have to say I prefer the dirty water over in SB.

                5 Replies
                1. re: peppermonkey

                  I really wouldn't use Sasabune as a guide to freshness and top end fish. Actually, if you look at where each restaurant sources, it's interesting to note that the more traditional places (Urasawa, Zo, Mori) source from SB and that the LA-sushi guys use Catalina. FYI, Yasuda sources from SB also.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    For the record, I have had Hokkaido uni at Urasawa. The season for Hokkaido uni is from May to October and include 'akauni' (red sea urchin), 'bafun-uni' (Japanese green sea urchin), 'ezo-bafun-uni' (short-spined sea urchin) and 'murasaki-uni' (purple sea urchin).

                    1. re: Porthos

                      and from somewhere in Siberia too. Last time at Yasuda I was stunned.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        That's good to know...It'll be funny having uni from my "backyard" all the way in NYC. I wonder if any freshness is lost in transit

                        1. re: peppermonkey

                          let us know when you do. it was quite different in taste from the california. if i had to choose adjectives i'd say smoky/earthy.

                    2. Hi Porthos,

                      Thanks for another great review. :) Really good to hear the comparison between SB Uni and Hokkaido Uni. I hope I can try some Hokkaido Uni before it's too late.