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Sep 18, 2009 01:29 PM

I heard Santa Barbara has the best SEA URCHIN (UNI) - true?

Is that true? Even better than Japan?

Uni sushi is my favorite sushi. I'm in LA, so if Santa Barbara has amazing uni, then I would love to explore.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I don't know about Santa Barbara, though with the kelp beds, I am sure it is good.

    Many of the better sushi places source their uni from San Diego. I have ordered from Catalina Offshore Products before and the uni was very good.


    2 Replies
    1. re: BeachGrub

      I second Catalina Offshore Products. California Gold is their premium uni, and it is fantastic. San Diego has the rep for having the best uni on the planet, but all of So Cal has extremely good Sea Urchins.

      1. re: Captain Jack

        i know it has been mentioned in another thread, but i'd like to throw out the vendor selling live sea urchins in little italy mercato farmers' market (thanks for the rec cgfan).

        recently bought some this past weekend right off the boat. i have to say, the vendor was more than willing to show us how to prepare it and very informative in explaining why san diego has the best sea urchin in the world.

        if interested, see pics on flickr:

    2. The reason that Santa Barbara uni has such a good reputation is a result of it being the closest commercial port to the whole span of the state and federally protected Channel Islands. Urchin divers there harvest over a few days and return to town with some of the freshest, sustainable, and delicious red sea urchin the world has to offer. It's very fun to watch an offload at the coast guard pier in the harbor.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SaltyRaisins

        October 10th is the Harbor Festival in Santa Barbara- GREAT chance to try local uni- lobster- albacore- oysters- you name it!!!

        Best festival Santa Barbara has going. The Sushi school form LA comes up and makes all kinds of uni to eat- you can buy a "spoon" of it, or a plate with 3 tasters.

        1. re: JalamaMama

          Thanks for the info on the Festival. I will definitely check that out.

      2. I can't compare to SB, but San Diego urchin is quite tasty.

        1. Santa Barbara indeed does have some of the best uni in the world. Several places in Japan import it especially as well. There's no doubt that very few other locals have uni as good, several areas of Japan and San Diego are about all that compare. But to say whose its "The Best"? I have no idea.

          The Harbor Festival coming up in October has an uni booth, always with a long line, and totally worth it. Deliriously fresh shooters and plates. For what you describe, this is an absolute must visit. Seriously.

          Restaurant wise, visit Hungry Cat in downtown SB, if they have any, it will be fresh caught, and served all in it's shell. It's delightful, indulgent, and delicious. Get some good cocktails with it, too.

          As for sushi, to be honest, the sushi offerings are generally fairly average. You'd be better off going into LA for excellent sushi and near guaranteed SB uni. I can recommend specific places for SB uni in LA if you need.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Shortsord

            Shortsord - yes, please give some recs on your favorite LA places for uni!

          2. Hungry Cat has the best uni. Most uni in sushi restaurants have a preservative on them. I always wondered what the fuss was because I never enjoyed it much. Then one day--Hungry Cat. Fresh uni with the spines still moving served with pink Himalayan salt and lemon. Very simple and no preservative. Incredible.