Where to go for first time Urchin (Uni) in Vancouver?
I've never tried Urchin before and i'm really very curious. Anyone have a recommendation for where to go to try it for the very first time?
I don't mind paying more for a good experience.
Should I get Uni at a nice japanese place or just go to the market and pick one up to take home and eat it plain?
Neither will you go wrong at:
- Octopus Garden (try their "uni shooters" .... mmm)
- Kamei (aka Ebisu)
Just scratching the surface .... this is Vancouver after all. The above are merely places (that I can think of) where they put more effort into quality and preparation than your typical McSushi places. There'll be dozens more that others here will suggest that are highly recommended.
Good luck !
You won't be able to find live urchins at the market for the most part. Some places will sell you a tray of urchin (Angel seafoods probably has trays in the back), but you want to make sure it came in within a day of when you buy it. It doesn't last for more than a few days, and there are few things nastier than old urchin. Buying a tray will usually be cheaper (you could make 10 pieces and some sashimi for the price of a few pieces in a restaurant), but if it's your first time one of the recommended sushi places might be best. Some of these places will have live uni as well (at a premium price).
If the uni you ate had a whiff of ammonia, then it was a old batch. Most sushi joints serve this kind of uni. Fresh and live uni have a mild ocean-y flavour. It should be more like eating an oyster. Try it a Kimura.
I have had old uni at even the priciest sushi joints (most recently at the over-priced and less then mediocre Ki). It leads me to question their sourcing and their quality control.
That is why I only allow Kimura to choose my uni :-). I had the rip my tongue out and die experience and swore off it years ago. Then one time at omakase, out comes a full plate (no kidding) of uni at Kimura -- I hadn't said no uni but we got the $30 choice assuming it would not be in the mix at that price. Wrong and thankfully so. I couldn't believe how insanely good this stuff was. I had to stop myself from licking the plate. Never had a less than stellar piece of uni at K-san's bar since, whether pristinely plain or enhanced in some way by him. No idea how he manages to keep the quality so high and consistent, just happy it has been so for us.
Personally, I think the live uni is far more delicious than the boxed uni (even if it's "fresh", it's at least a day old). I think most of the nicer Japanese places in town would be fine as long as they're advertising live uni. I've had live uni at Octopus Garden, Tenhachi, and Sushi Kimura... but I'm sure other places serve it too.
How much longer does live uni season last? Or is it already finished?
Green is generally the best tasting (sweetest) but the pieces are small. Red pieces are much larger but not such a delicate taste. A bit like the difference between a Kusshi oyster and a pacific beach oyster. If I can find the green ones they are my favourite but red is much more common.