In past years, the lowly sea urchin had been relegated to a small portion of local sushi shops and the Japanese export market. Recently, more chefs and restaurants are adding sea urchin, or uni, on menus, giving the spiny ocean floor dweller the limelight via pasta, toasts, and composed dishes. It's easy to find pretty great uni at local sushi bars, but this list is about using sea urchin in more creative ways. With convenient sourcing from the Pacific Ocean, LA's local uni is considered some of the best in the world, giving Angelenos a reason to celebrate this delicacy. Herein, Eater presents 13 Great Sea Urchin Dishes to Try in Los Angeles.Read More
13 Great Sea Urchin Dishes to Try in Los Angeles
1. Sea Urchin Spaghetti at Locanda Portofino
This quaint Italian restaurant on Montana Avenue is both rustic and elegant, though the star of the menu is the sea urchin spaghetti, priced near $30 and worth every penny for its decadence.
2. Uni Toast at Paichẽ
Ricardo Zarate's new seafood-centric restaurant in Marina Del Rey does a great uni toast that uses a chunk shrimp paste as a base then tops it with a rocoto-honey sauce for a sweet finish.
3. Spaghetti Nero at Gusto
The spaghetti nero is a squid ink noodle that's tossed in a rich sea urchin sauce seasoned with calabrian chiles and anchovy bread crumbs, and then topped with a whole fresh piece of uni for an incredibly rich bowl of pasta.
4. Uni Toast at Black Hogg
The uni toast at this minimal yet inventive Silver Lake restaurant is presented as a simple crostini, laced with rich plugra butter, then topped with scallions and a sprinkling of sea salt for a satisfying starter.
5. Uni with Scrambled Egg at Providence
Presented beautifully in a cut eggshell, this signature sea urchin dish resembles an Arpege egg, only with uni lurking under the soft-scrambled eggs and a champagne beurre blanc.
6. Uni Tiradito at Picca
Ricardo Zarate is a master at melding the flavors of Japan and Peru, and this uni tiradito, a crudo-like dish that stars fresh scallops topped with luscious sea urchin, is no exception.
7. Uni Burrata at Son of a Gun
This deadly simple dish combines similar texture - the stringy-creamy bite of burrata with the briny flavor of uni, then sides it with button mushrooms and yuzu for balance.
8. Uni with Oxtail & Congee at Le Ka
This comfort dish takes a simple congee and then centers a dollop of umami-rich braised oxtail and then tops it with a fresh piece of sea urchin for that extra sumptuous bite that melds the flavors of Asia and France perfectly.
9. Sea Urchin Linguine at RivaBella
This delicious, handmade linguine uses a rich sea urchin sauce that tastes exactly like the ocean, perhaps very much like the Amalfi coast at this massive Italian restaurant on the Sunset Strip.
10. Uni Ankimo En Croute at Hamasaku
This creative appetizer starts with a thin brioche toast, then layers on ankimo paste and a yuzu marmalade and then tops with translucent lardo, or cured pork backfat for an ultra-luxurious bite.
11. Wakame Spaghetti at Superba Snack Bar
Chef Jason Neroni ingeniously uses wakame, or Japanese seawood, to add flavor to this spaghetti, then tosses it with lumps of fresh dungeness crab, miso butter, and pickled jalapenos. The kicker is the creamy, rich sea urchin that gets imbued into the sauce.
12. Chawanmushi at Yamakase Sushi
Culver City, CA 90034
This special Japanese egg custard gets filled with gingko seeds, halibut, truffle butter, crab, and of course, sea urchin for the ultimate chawan mushi dish. [Photo: Chris Hei]
13. Santa Barbara Uni at Red Medicine
Presented in a precious glass fish bowl, this delectable dish gets sided with cauliflower powder and dices of smokey Chinese sausage with pieces of sea urchin mixed in. [Photo: Darin Dines]