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Kick-Butt Uni Dishes

CarrieWas218 Sep 21, 2009 07:36 PM

My best Foodie Buddy and I are planning the ultimate Uni Crawl and would like input on favorite uni concoctions around the city. Currently in the running for our proposed crawl:

Bar Crudo = Uni and Avocado on Toast
Anchor & Hope = Uni with lemon beurre blanc and crab
Tanuki House = Uni Pasta
Koo Sushi = Spoonfuls of Happiness

Give me some more ideas!

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  1. susancinsf RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 21, 2009 07:56 PM

    It's been a special when I've had it there, (more than once) but when you start your crawl call and check if La Ciccia has a uni/sea urchin pasta dish on the menu, and if they do, don't miss it! Definitely a favorite of mine.

    -----
    La Ciccia
    291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

    3 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf
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      david kaplan RE: susancinsf Sep 21, 2009 08:18 PM

      Also, spaghetti with sea urchin at TWO.

      1. re: david kaplan
        mariacarmen RE: david kaplan Sep 21, 2009 09:17 PM

        second that.

      2. re: susancinsf
        twocents RE: susancinsf Sep 22, 2009 11:37 AM

        I agree that he makes a great uni pasta (also like the version with shaved cured tuna heart) but on a recent visit we were told that they had discontinued the high-content uni dishes. On that visit we had a tomato-uni pasta which was very good too, but less profoundly uni-tasting.

      3. s
        sairuh RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 21, 2009 08:25 PM

        If Ame offers their chawan mushi with uni (savory steamed egg custard), get it.

        -----
        Ame Restaurant
        689 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

        1. Robert Lauriston RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 22, 2009 09:54 AM

          Same question from two years ago: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/428568

          2 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            CarrieWas218 RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 22, 2009 10:26 AM

            And you know how much can change in two years -- I'm not about to research how many of those two-year old posts are still accurate...

            1. re: CarrieWas218
              Robert Lauriston RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 22, 2009 10:40 AM

              I skimmed it and I don't believe any of the recommended places have changed.

          2. p
            pauliface RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 22, 2009 10:13 AM

            Nihon Whiskey Lounge does a nice Uni shooter, I believe uni and a couple other things served in a chinese-food type ceramic spoon.

            Ino sushi has had some killer uni at times, but I don't think you can go in there and just order one thing and leave...

            And if you know any place that makes Ochazuke, ask them to throw some uni in it right before bringing to the table, I've had that in NYC at Blue Ribbon and it's amazing.

            Last off, if you are up for preparing yourself, SF Fish Company at the ferry building sometimes sells whole uni, spines and all...

            8 Replies
            1. re: pauliface
              s
              SteveG RE: pauliface Sep 22, 2009 12:28 PM

              Sample size = 1, but I found the uni shooter at Nihon to have too many distracting flavors to taste the uni well, or the uni itself was undistinguished. Either way, it struck me as more gimmicky than good.

              1. re: SteveG
                p
                pauliface RE: SteveG Sep 22, 2009 12:42 PM

                Fair enough, I won't disagree.
                I've generally had it as a little referesher between other courses there, and it goes nicely.
                But it does have a lot going on...

                So Steve, who do you think consistently serves the best raw uni?
                I have found that even at the best places it is inconsistent.
                The best stuff gives me an unmistakeable body buzz, but it only happens about 1/5 of the time I get it...

                1. re: pauliface
                  s
                  SteveG RE: pauliface Sep 22, 2009 01:05 PM

                  Don't know. This is a tough question. I would have said Sebo and Bar Tartine, but Sebo was pretty bad on a recent effort with a distinct lack of attention to detail, and Bar Tartine has changed the entire food format.

                  It's been ages, but Ame probably has consistently good uni.

                  As for getting jaw-dropping uni only 20% of the time--I think that might just be the nature of the beast. I think even with impeccable handling, the raw product varies from stunning to merely tasty, and it's hard for a chef to control that.

                  Thanks for the reminder on Ino. Especially after our last visit at Sebo, we need a new sushi default.

                  1. re: SteveG
                    CarrieWas218 RE: SteveG Sep 22, 2009 02:21 PM

                    Steve, Ino is my sushi default as well... Although I was a bit put off the last time I went in (solo) and I was not allowed to sit at the counter.

                    Ino = good fish, mediocre wasabe, rude service.

                    1. re: CarrieWas218
                      p
                      pauliface RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 22, 2009 04:43 PM

                      Ino was my favorite for years. But it was recently dethroned by Yume in Alameda.

                    2. re: SteveG
                      Robert Lauriston RE: SteveG Sep 23, 2009 05:33 PM

                      Was the bad experience at Sebo at the bar or at a table?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        s
                        SteveG RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 23, 2009 06:32 PM

                        At a table. Service was fine. The problems were:
                        1) Fish quality was not up to par--only 3 selections actually had good flavor--the rest were simply very neutral. Fresh, just not of a quality consistent with prior experiences or the price point around $10 per pair of nigiri.
                        2) Knife work was unusually sloppy, to the point where I think some of our nigiri should have stayed in the kitchen and they should have tried again instead of hiding shreds of fish tucked under the end
                        3) There was a time when nobody in the restaurant was eating, because they had all finished what food they had been given. We could see the chefs just joking around and chatting in the kitchen. This was around 7:15 PM on Saturday--they weren't drunk, just weren't interested in preparing food for their customers, who were occupying every table.
                        4) The sake list is now down to 4 selections, and my sake was served around 75-80 degrees, where it was too "hot" and unbalanced. As it cooled down in the freezing restaurant, it got much better, but no attention was paid to serving temperature--it was just whatever temperature the bottle happened to be at, which was not favorable for that sake
                        5) Pickled ginger was the sloppiest I have seen in my life, no exaggeration. It was clearly done on a mandoline, where they peeled entire roots and then just slid it across however which way it was. It should traditionally be in fairly tidy diagonal slices which are basically round or ovoid; this was all random shapes, including one piece that was 5 inches long--wider than the width of my hand
                        6) Boring tuna in the 9-piece sashimi selection. This is a bit of a peeve on my part; we don't really order tuna any more for a variety of reasons, and I thought the rest of our ordering was enough of an indication that we didn't want it in the chef's selection. The tuna we got was some crappy grade with a truly uninteresting flavor profile. The menu had a variety of better options, and not just sustainable tuna either, but they weren't included in the sampler. I'm just surprised that a restaurant that carries the sustainable farmed tuna when available would just plonk any old tuna down on diner's plates even if they haven't ordered it specifically.
                        7) The restaurant was positively freezing, because the door was open and the kitchen hood was on, pulling in cold cigarette-laced air from the sidewalk. At this price point, I expect them to do whatever it takes to keep the restaurant free of cigarette smoke and within 5 degrees of 70.
                        8) Fish variety was very poor. Sebo has always had a limited selection, which I accepted because quality was uniformly high. This time, the selection was smaller, and of what was actually on the menu, 4 or 5 items were sold out, despite us being there early in the evening, probably the 4th group of the night to get its order in.

                        In the past, I have had many wonderful meals at Sebo, and have been more than happy to pay prices that are in the top 5% of SF sushi. This meal just failed on so many levels that I don't think we'll be back. It takes a lot for us to make that decision about a restaurant.

                        As for staffing, one of the two original chef owners was working that night; I saw a new face in the kitchen, and the younger guy who they brought in a few years back and trained was working as the second sushi chef. The other of the two original owners was not there. Waitresses and hostess were all people I recognized from the past few years. In short, they weren't missing their A-team, they weren't slammed, and it was far too early in the evening for them to have been goofing around on the job and out of so many of the selections on their menu.

                        Edited to add: the online menu prices are distinctly outdated. Prices are now 10-30% higher, depending on item.

                        1. re: SteveG
                          Robert Lauriston RE: SteveG Sep 24, 2009 12:09 PM

                          Yow. You should repost that in a Sebo-specific topic.

              2. s
                SteveG RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 22, 2009 12:31 PM

                I would have said Bar Tartine, where I've had multiple delicious dishes incorporating uni, but the new menu is generic new American with nothing sophisticated enough to benefit from Uni. Yes, I'm annoyed with the chef change there.

                1. m
                  margieco RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 22, 2009 02:41 PM

                  while it's not a concoction, live sushi bar regularly has live uni on the menu. It's incredibly fresh and a beautiful presentation.

                  -----
                  Live Sushi Bar
                  2001 17th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                  1. K K RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 22, 2009 04:25 PM

                    I'd say go to any good sushi restaurant, whether it be Koo, Ino, Sebo, Murasaki, and ask them to make an uni ika somen. Basically taking thinly sliced raw squid to make it look like spaghetti, and mixing it with raw uni. Dip a little soy sauce and wasabi and it's another good dish. Sushi Zo in Los Angeles is famous for doing this dish as one of their "omakase' courses. I'd pick Ino, just to be able to have some of his infamous monk fish liver.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: K K
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                      pauliface RE: K K Sep 22, 2009 04:40 PM

                      Oh yes. I do not like monkfish liver.
                      Except at Ino. He must make it himself or something, it's a different thing entirely...
                      Same is true for has ikura (salmon roe)

                    2. l
                      lizziee RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 23, 2009 01:26 PM

                      Go to the French laundry and have them make you a lot of uni dishes. Our last time there we had 4 in one meal.

                      Mendocino Uni with Green Apple Granite – what an incredible combination – the icy cold granite with the smooth unctuous uni

                      Ensui Uni (Japan) with Almond Panna Cotta, 1/16″ dice of apple, Black Truffles, Edible Gold Leaf – this uni was very different than the Menocino uni – it had a salty ocean taste. Who would have thought that almond panna cotta would even work – it did.

                      Hen Egg Omelet, Santa Barbara Uni, Red Ribbon Sorrel, White Sturgeon Caviar, Creme Fraiche – This was THE dish of the evening

                      Russet Potato Gnocchi, Uni, Uni Emulsion – Pairing gnocchi with uni is a first for me – the gnocchi were as light as air and then Australian Winter Black Truffles were added tableside.

                      Complete post of meal here:
                      http://lizziee.wordpress.com/category...

                       
                       
                       
                       
                      1. c
                        chefdara RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 28, 2009 01:37 PM

                        A great place for live Uni is Ray's Sushi in Hayward at the Bedford Plaza Shopping Center on the corner of A street and Hesperian Boulevard. I ordered the live Uni last week on a Friday and when it arrived at my table I was so excited. There were 6 very large pieces of the freshest Uni (5-6 inches in length) draped over the top of the Urchin Shell, which was filled with shaved ice and bits of fresh seaweed - it was a spectacular presentation and the best Uni I have ever had. People were stopping at my table to admire the presentation.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: chefdara
                          Robert Lauriston RE: chefdara Sep 28, 2009 05:37 PM

                          What did that set you back?

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