The Best Uni Shooter

Uni is sea urchin’s creamy tongue-like genital organs (mmmm…right?).  It is a Japanese aphrodisiac specialty, served in a tangy, alcoholic and spicy concoction with a raw quail’s egg to complete the ultimate savory shooter.  While these are the standard ingredients, each purveyor of the specialty has its own personality – so I decided to take it upon myself to visit as many Japanese restaurants in L.A I could find in my quest to seek out the best variation of the classic uni shooter.

The second runner up:

WA Sushi – The addition of ponzu jelly made the uni slide down as easily as the ocean vomited it up….

WA Uni Shooter

The first runner up:

Asanebo, my new favorite Japanese restaurant (minus the bill).  Even though the gonad slime has spent its life bottom feeding the excrement of the sea, this uni could not have been more fresh, with the addition of masago fish roe to indulge your taste buds.

Asanebo Uni Shooter

And the winner is…Matsuhisa.

The Winner of the Best Uni Shooter: Matsuhisa

I must first admit that I love every Nobu I’ve been to, but this one stands out by the fact that it was the first restaurant opened by culinary God, Nobu Matsuhisa, and the only of his establishments where on any odd day you can still find the deity himself hanging out.  The last time I ate at Nobu, I was grinning so hard, he waved at me, probably mistaking me for someone he actually knew.  I then kidded myself into thinking that perhaps he did recognize me from the last time we had locked eyes  – four years prior, when I asked him for directions to the bathroom. Hmmm.

Matsuhisa Bathroom with Super High-Tech Lavatory

Lavatory Controls!

Even if you don’t like sea urchin, I can pretty much guarantee this shot will send you to sensory heaven.  It’s full of all the perfectly proportioned flavors and buttery, liquidy textures that work in harmony together to titillate your taste buds, and as the ingredients are condensed into a shot glass it’s actually possible to shoot back in one big gulp for the ultimate gustatory experience.

If you want to try to make this yourself at home, here’s one version of the recipe….  In either a double shot glass or a small martini glass, layer these ingredients in the following order:  A piece or two of uni, a raw quail’s egg yolk, a spoonful of ponzu sauce, a splash of sake, rocotta (spicy Peruvian pepper sauce), cilantro and a wedge of lemon.  You can also sprinkle it with fish roe (the little coral-colored fish eggs), as they do at Wa, for even an even saltier, crunchier addition – and finely chopped onion or ginger, shiso, lime or even an oyster for good measure.

Try to get your uni (and all your seafood for that matter) from sustainable sources.  This is a really great guide: Casson Trenor, the author of “Sustainable Sushi” recommends getting uni from Canada and California.  Maine has depleted their supply by 95% and Japan fishing methods as traditionally a bit dodgy, so if you should avoid them!

If you know anything about sustainable fish you will also know there was a huge backlash against Nobu in 2008 for serving the nearly extinct, Northern bluefin tuna.  But you’ll be pleased to know that Casson Trenor is a big advocate of shellfish and therefore…uni.  So now you can revel in the best dish at Matsuhisa and feel good about your eco-activism.


So, there you have it, if you want to indulge in the very best uni shooter L.A. has to offer, head straight to Matsuhisa.  And if you smile just the right way, Nobu himself might even mistaken you for a long lost friend.


3 Responses

  1. Oh my, what a dream morsel!
    I actually knew Nobu when he was a chef at a place on 3rd St. ooposite the hospital (a few decades ago)…I dunno if he would still wave to me

  2. This sounds all good, have to try them out myself

  3. Yes thanks I liked Nobu Matsuhisa special the drink
    Uni Shooter very nice!

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