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Fresh uni

  • Monica Nov 22, 2010 05:51 PM
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Is it possible to buy fresh sea urchin from a market? Does Lobster Place carry them?
I love fresh uni with nothing on it so I don't find it necessary to go to a restaurant.

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The Lobster Place
252 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

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  1. Eataly carries it, according to this report:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7427...

    I've also seen it for sale at AquaBest on Grand St.

    1 Reply
    1. re: small h

      confirming that you can purchase it at Eataly.

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      Eataly
      200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

    2. Sunrise Mart generally has it. Often they'll have a couple different types, too - I'll use the cheaper one for making sauces / uni butter / etc, the fancier stuff for serving straight. Probably even the fancy grade is cheaper than at Eataly, though I admit I've actually been quite surprised at some of the prices at The Big E being more reasonable than I expected. On the other hand, some of the prices were exorbitant. Worth checking out, though.

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      Sunrise Mart
      494 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

      Sunrise Mart
      4 Stuyvesant St, New York, NY 10003

      5 Replies
      1. re: sgordon

        I've purchased it at Sunrise Mart and found it barely edible. Perhaps it was a bad day.

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        Sunrise Mart
        4 Stuyvesant St, New York, NY 10003

        1. re: uwsister

          Probably depends which grade you got - last time I was there, there was one for, like, $7 a tray and another for $24, if I remember the prices right. That second number might be a little high - maybe it was $21 or so. But that fluctuates with the seasons. Like I said, the cheap stuff was fine for making sauces where it was one of several players - but I'd use the good stuff for when it's the focus of a dish.

          1. re: sgordon

            Frankly I don't remember the price - have you tried the expensive one there?

            1. re: uwsister

              Yeah, I've had both - like I said, the cheap one was good for making sauces & uni butter and such, the pricier one for serving raw / garnishing.

          2. re: uwsister

            Sunrise sometimes has uni labeled "California" and if you check the sell-by date to ensure it's worth buying, you may be surprised--it's been sweet and fresh when we have purchased it. Usually goes for $20 a tray.

        2. I've purchased it at Citarella but wasn't happy with the quality. This link may be helpful:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/481880

          1. I bought a box from Mitsuwah in NJ....it was ok...I should give Eatery a try.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Monica

              Please report back when you try Eataly. I haven't liked Mitsua's uni either. I actually haven't found uni at a store that compares to the uni served at good sushi restaurants.

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              Eataly
              200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

            2. Although I have never ordered from here myself, I know several people who do, and have been very pleased:

              http://www.catalinaop.com/Sea_Urchin_...

              3 Replies
              1. re: gutsofsteel

                Ok, because of your post, I put an order for the premium uni (and some other stuff) to be delivered today. Just received it and have a question. When I received it, it was still cool (delivery was delayed for a few hours for some reason). Just tried it and was kind of fizzy (when I put it on my tongue, there was a carbonation). Taste is good, but am a bit concerned about the fizz. Is that normal?

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Nope. It sounds like it turned as does potato or macaroni salad does when not properly attended to. I'm curious, did the uni have a tin-metallic taste as well?

                  1. re: bigmackdaddy

                    That was what was surprising. The taste was fine. It was by far better than all of the uni I've purchased at stores. It just fizzed on my mouth -- and it was all of the pieces. I even tasted the fizz with the rice and seaweed. And when I tried the toro, there was a slight fizz, only when eaten alone. With rice, couldn't really detect it. The other fish I purchased were fine.

              2. Why is fresh uni so expensive? I scuba and snorkle a lot and there are more uni than fish in the water.lol and it's not like there is a high demand..well, at least yet.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Monica

                  You can get it from Lobster Place in Chelsea Market most of the time... I've also seen it at Han Ah Reum in K Town.

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                  Han Ah Reum
                  25 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

                  The Lobster Place
                  252 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                  1. re: blimeyboy

                    Yep, I've seen it several times at Lobster Place

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                    The Lobster Place
                    252 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                2. Like everyone else said, most Japanese markets (Mitsuwa, Sunrise, etc.) have sushi grade uni. I recommend sushi grade since it's already cleaned and prepped. Call ahead and ask when they got it in, where it's from, etc.

                  Sea urchin straight out of the ocean is pretty foul. My mom was born and raised in Japan and even she was shocked when we ordered live uni for the first time in NYC and Boston. It was so bitter and gross; unedible, even. After that, we decided never to eat uni at home and when I told my aunt (who lives in Japan) our story she looked at us as though it was common sense. Fish markets are like neighborhood butchers, where relationships are super important. My aunt told me even she didn't buy uni until she had a good rapport with her local fish merchant...so to buy uni in US is daring (in her words.)

                  Another option is asking your favorite sushi chef. If you have a relationship with them, sometimes they'll order a little more from their respective distributors and pass it along to you.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: MonaNomura

                    My experience with fresh-from-the-ocean sea urchin was very different. I thought it was deliciously light, tasty, and very enjoyable. While visiting Santa Barbara, California last year, my friend and I walked along the fishing piers around 6 PM or so when the boats come back with their haul. We struck up a conversation with one of the fishermen, who obligingly gave us two spindly urchins from his catch. We cracked them open on the spot. The only drawback was not having a washcloth handy to clean up with ... things get a little messy when you use your hands.

                    1. re: njfreqflyer

                      Santa Barbara is a very special place -- they also have produce that is hard to come by in the US as well.

                      Have you tried the fresh uni in Maine or Boston? They're pretty foul.

                      1. re: MonaNomura

                        I haven't had it live/fresh out of the water other than Santa Barbara, although I have had live sea urchin (Japanese, Californian) in restaurants. I've had the Maine sea urchin served in restaurants (packaged); it was a different taste from its cousins in the Pacific ... along the lines of how oysters will vary depending on their terroir.

                        I wonder if the "foul" taste experience of some live urchin is a result of the very specific water conditions (temperature, salinity, bacterial tide, diet?). My local itamae tells me that he used to go tidal sea urchin picking when he was growing up in Tohoku region of Japan, and the uni was good to eat.

                        1. re: njfreqflyer

                          Wouldn't that be "merr"-oir?

                  2. Have you considered getting it shipped to you? The best uni is the US comes from Southern California and you can get it shipped directly to you by Catalina Offshore Products.

                    http://www.catalinaop.com/

                    No danger then of getting crappy Eastcoast uni. This is the gooood stuff!!

                    1. katagiri has it sometimes

                      1. I've seen Dean & Deluca carry it once in awhile. Mostly the Southern Cal uni. I like Maine better, but I believe it's very seasonal and hard to get outside of a sushi place. Although, I wonder if any fish-mongers at Hunts Point would be willing to sell you some on the side.

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                        Dean & DeLuca
                        1 Rockefeller Plz, New York, NY 10020

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: bigmackdaddy

                          +Sunrise Mart.. or Katagiri

                          Also Mitsuwa Marketplace - worth the trek!

                          -----
                          Sunrise Mart
                          4 Stuyvesant St, New York, NY 10003

                          1. re: i8NYC

                            Now (through Jan 30) on sale at Mitsuwa for $9.99 a pack (2.1 oz)

                            1. re: njfreqflyer

                              I've had sea urchin from Mitsuwa...i had a high hope but it was quite disappointing.

                        2. I tried at various retail places and concluded that no place has better uni than reputable restaurants...like my recent one at Sushi Yasuda. Melt in my mouth good..

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                          Sushi Yasuda
                          204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Monica

                            That is also my assessment. Uni from stores may be okay for things like pasta sauces. But for eating uni straight up (or with some rice), I've been pretty disappointed with store offerings. I think I need to just limit eating uni to higher end sushi restaurants.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              Citarella has live sea urchins right now. Past posters have disagreed on how good they are, however.