The Beauty of Uni at Kata Robata: A Photographic Essay

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Location Info

Kata Robata Sushi & Grill

3600 Kirby, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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8 comments
FRL713
FRL713

MF sushi often has live uni for omakase diners.  The flavor is way more intense than that of regular "dead" uni.

Quiquig
Quiquig

Secret: Uni is actually someone's tongue.

Jennifer Mink
Jennifer Mink

Nooooooooooot a fan of Uni at all! All other sushi is a go, though! It's been too long since I've been to Kata Robata :(

Quiquig
Quiquig

@FRL713 

L'Olivier has them at the raw bar sometimes. Order the whole briny spikey thing and dig in.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

@Quiquig Also, the moral of the story is if you don't see all that texture in the uni, it's not great uni.


Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

@Quiquig it does look like a tongue, but it tastes wonderful and completely different, i assure you! 

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

@Jennifer Mink you should try it again! But like I said, you either love it or hate it. Obviously, I love it! Kata's other sushi is fantastic, too!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

@Quiquig Totally did not know about L'Olivier -- thanks for the tip! 

@FRL713 you are quite right! Live uni rocks!

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