Where to Eat Sea Urchin or Uni in Manila that Doesn’t Come in Sushi FormMarch 9, 2015
- Pamela CortezWords
It’s no secret that us Pepper folks love uni. We’ve named it as one of our upcoming trends of this year, and believe in that foodie saying that it’s the ‘foie gras of the sea’ (but let’s be honest, it might be even better than foie). It’s rich, briny, and can at first be off-putting, but its creaminess instantly turns addictive. This isn’t just for the elite; we’ve got bounds of local uni, which you can get at local markets and groceries, from Cartimar to even South Supermarket. While the best way to enjoy this treat is in its unadulterated, natural form, we’ve listed a few different ways you can enjoy this treat in Manila’s restaurants.
1. Uni Foilyaki from Tanabe
Tanabe’s foilyaki is carefully restrained, adding only a little heat to the uni to cook it. Wrapped in foil with a squeeze of lemon and a slice placed inside the package, it is then placed over hot coals until the uni releases a little more of its briny juice. Ask them to cook it just a little less so that the uni maintains its slippery texture.
2. Unidon from Seryna
Almost any Japanese restaurant you go to will definitely have an unidon, but Seryna is where we go to get our regular fix. They have unidons with tuna or flying fish roe too, which helps cut the richness of uni. It’s incredible value for money, getting a whole bowl of warm sushi rice, topped with mounds and mounds of sea urchin.
3. Uni Pasta from Isogi
There’s a lot of uni cream pasta iterations in the city, and Isogi happens to serve one of the best in the metro. The noodles are always al dente, and the uni sauce thick, clinging on to the pasta. It’s the perfect marriage between Japanese and Italian cooking.
4. Uni Tempura from Kenji Tei Ramen
If you’re looking for affordable luxury, Kenji Tei’s uni tempura is the only way to go. It’s an underrated Japanese chain, and ironically, the ramen isn’t the best thing you can find here. Their uni tempura is some of the best around, never too oily. Deep-frying the uni while encased in crisp tempura batter transforms the roe. We can only compare it to biting into a super-stuffed jelly doughnut; each bite bursts with warm, incredibly sweet sea urchin.
5. Uni and Crab Spaghetti from Green Pastures
While most uni pastas you find around the city are of the creamy type, Green Pastures takes the idea on its head and gives their spaghetti the aglio oglio treatment. Littered with uni, crab, and soft slivers of garlic, their uni and crab spaghetti is incredibly minimalist but all the better for it. Robby Goco serves a similar version in his Cyma chain as well.
6. Tabon-Tabon from Gallery Vask
Gallery Vask is known for serving up one of the best degustations in Manila, currently an ambitious tasting menu that is an ode to regions all over the Philippines, with almost all produce sourced locally. Part of the menu is Tabon-Tabon, a simple dish that highlights two ingredients–local uni, which is then topped with tocino or Iberico lard. Finished with a slightly creamy, sour sauce, it is an opulent ode to kinilaw.
7. Tartine Iodee from Impressions
This is probably hands down one of our favorite dishes in the whole damn city. We labelled it as one of our underrated restaurants because of its location, and it serves up some of the best fine dining Manila has to offer. Almost every time we visit, we order the Tartine Iodee- lightly fried toast is topped with raw oyster, scallop and sea urchin, then served with a sea urchin parfait. It’s the perfect way to showcase some incredibly fresh seafood.
8. Prawn Bisque, Sea Urchin Flan from Brasserie Ciçou
By the same genius chef behind Impressions, Brasserie Ciçou is where everyone in the North goes to for defiantly delicious French fare, and their famous kouign ammans. On their menu you’ll find a rich, deep prawn bisque that is such a concentrated version of shellfish that you’ll be smacking your lips from all the umami flavor. The sea urchin flan in the middle adds the proverbial icing to the cake; with every spoonful of salty bisque, you get the intense sweetness of the uni flan.
9. Uni, Oyster, Monkfish Liver from Mecha Uma
Mecha Uma is Manila’s most in-demand restaurant. It’s always fully booked, frequently written about in publications, and the chef Bruce Ricketts lauded as a culinary genius. While his omakase is often changing, this combination of uni, oyster and monkfish liver is supremely popular for its ingenious use of its luxurious ingredients.
10. Sea Urchin Omelet from Mangetsu
Whoever thought of this straightforward idea is a culinary mastermind: why not combine eggs from both land and sea????? Folding sea urchin into a silky omelet is something so simple yet ridiculously satisfying. Plus, chicken broth is poured over the whole thing to turn it into the kind of comfort you’d want on a rainy day.