The Beauty of Uni at Kata Robata: A Photographic Essay
Photos by Mai Pham Uni sushi at Kata Robata
Uni (sea urchin) is one of those seafood delicacies that, like oysters, you either love or hate. If you love it, eating it will fill you rapturous delight, often accompanied by a heady rush of endorphin-fueled food pleasure. If you hate it, maybe that's because you were the recipient of a bad sample. There are varying grades of uni, and if you didn't get the freshest sample or the best grade, it can be quite unpleasant.
When you've had Grade-A uni, however, the sweet creaminess and whisper-delicate oceanic flavors are a thing of beauty.
At Kata Robata, the uni is always top-notch, the kind worth waxing poetic over. From the simplest form of uni sushi or uni sashimi, Executive Chef Manabu Horiuchi (Hori-san) is always coming up with new ways to titillate and delight, using the highest-grade uni available from Santa Barbara or San Diego. The following photographic essay is a compilation of uni dishes Hori-san has created over the past three years.
Uni amaebi (sea urchin and sweet shrimp) nigiri sushi
Try to order this elsewhere, and the result just won't be the same. At Kata Robata, the two powerhouse ingredients -- plump, sweet shrimp and intensely fresh uni -- combine with sushi rice for a one-two punch that is insanely good.
Uni stuffed fried shrimp head
At a recent dinner, the uni was so superlative that I jokingly said to Hori-san, "You can put uni on everything if you want," and he proceeded to do that. Fried shrimp heads are normally served at sushi restaurants whenever you order live sweet shrimp. In this case, they came stuffed with uni. It was food-gasmic. Seriously.
Uni and abalone sushi
Hori-san sous-vides abalone to give it this silky texture, then tops it with uni and a dollop of fresh wasabi. Smoky, silky abalone with creamy sweet uni on top boggles the mind with how good it is.