Uni is having a big moment in New York. The vividly orange, highly coveted sea urchin roe is delicately briny with a subtle oceanic funk, which some describe as "the foie gras of the sea." Japanese restaurants, in particular, have long favored uni, but today we're seeing it everywhere, featured in sandwiches and stirred into pasta and even crowning equally rich bone marrow. If you're at a hot NYC restaurant, there's definitely uni on the menu right now. Here are 10 of our favorite uni dishes in New York; let us know yours in the comments.
Also, check out our latest My First video in which a few uni virgins try it for the first time.
This new Venetian- and Japanese-inspired restaurant from Chris Cannon and Chris Jaeckle has earned acclaim from many corners, most enthusiastically for its bucatini: a rich, carbonaralike sauce that starts from dashi-Parmesan stock and egg yolk, laced with smoked uni and spicy bread crumbs for texture.
22 E. 13th St.; 212-231-2236
Uni appears in many guises at this elegant Union Square Japanese restaurant, but the best may be one of the simplest: atop 15 East's hand-cut soba noodles. They can be ordered with a number of toppings, but the tender tongues of uni pair particularly well, either on their own or in an aquatic egg trio with caviar and salmon roe.
15 E. 15th St.; 212-647-0015
Brothers Bruce and Eric Bromberg, chef-owners of the Blue Ribbon restaurant empire, first tasted squid ink and rice together in Spain, which became the inspiration for the squid, squid ink and uni fried rice at their Lower East Side izakaya. Petals of uni on top accent the briny flavor (and contrast with an elegant pop of color).
187 Orchard St.; 212-466-0404
Of the handful of pasta dishes at this loosely Italian-inspired restaurant, it's the duck egg spaghetti that has gotten the most attention. The rich eggs at the base of the sauce are amplified by guanciale (cured pork jowl) and butter, brightened with lemon and are finished with a generous portion of uni and a sprinkle of dried Petrossian caviar.
5 King St.; 212-235-7133
While you can't go wrong with any of chef Michael White's stellar pastas, the crab and sea urchin spaghetti originally on the menu at Marea is easily his best-loved. These days, the spaghetti has been replaced by strozzapretti, a pasta that rather morbidly translates to "priest-stranglers"; while its curls do an admirable job of holding in the rich sauce, Marea's kitchen will still make the dish with spaghetti on request.
240 Central Park S.; 212-582-5100
At Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette's South Chelsea Spanish enclave, sharing a selection of tapas is the way to go - except for the Bocadillo De Erizos, which is so addictive that it's impossible to share. The slim pressed sandwich, served warm, oozes with melted miso butter and softened uni, their sweet-salty richness set off with pickled mustard seeds.
85 10th Ave.; 212-691-2360
Uni is buttery enough on its own, but combining it with butter is a brilliant move, as this uni toast from chef Camille Becerra at Navy in SoHo demonstrates: curls of uni butter atop pan de mie, with celery and sorrel to accent.
137 Sullivan St.; 212-533-1137
It's hard to resist the namesake dish at Harold Dieterle's newest West Village restaurant, where a split-roasted beef bone is generously seasoned with Maldon sea salt and topped with tender tongues of uni. Served with fried potatoes and a Meyer lemon aïoli, ciabatta slices await underneath for slathering.
99 Bank St.; 212-428-6000
This West Village Japanese spot is a showcase for beef of all kinds, with a menu of various cuts served raw and grilled at your table. So it's no surprise that even their uni dish incorporates beef: raw and deeply marbled chuck flap, served thinly cut sashimi-style, topped with sea urchin and fresh wasabi on a bed of shiso leaf.
456 Hudson St.; 212-414-2929
What this bar snack lacks in size, it makes up for in extravagance. At chef Matt Lambert's NoLita hot spot, uni is served atop a bite of fried bone marrow, and as if that weren't indulgent enough, a generous caviar garnish.
265 Elizabeth St.; 212-219-0764