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My First Sea Urchin Experience

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I've been quite adventurous with food in most cases, I eat sashimi (raw), both fish and meat in fact. But for some reason, Uni (Japanese for sea urchin) was one of the things that I never dared to try. Maybe it's the color, maybe it's the texture, maybe it's the fishy smell or maybe it's that black spiky shell where it came from, maybe it's the name, I'm not really sure. Or maybe because my brother possibly got typhoid from eating it when we were young, haha!

Okay, so I'm here in Hokkaido, where the freshest sea urchin is one of the must-tries. Quite a dilemma indeed! But after realizing that this is a rare opportunity, I managed to try it before I changed my mind. With my chopsticks, I got a small piece, trying the ignore the look of it and threw it inside my mouth, hahaha!

The verdict? Hmmm, it wasn't so bad after all. The texture was just soft but not mushy and the fresh taste made it less daunting. At the Hakodate morning market, where people commonly have seafood for breakfast, I ordered a bowl of uni (brown colored sea urchin) and ikura (orange colored salmon roe) with rice, a very typical dish in Hokkaido. The rice was mixed with a vinegar mixture typically used in sushi rolls.

I didn't pass the chance to try my favorite: sake (salmon) and maguro (tuna) sashimis. Also had ebi (shrimp) and hotate (scallop) sashimis. Unlike some sashimis served in the restaurants back home, these fresh ones had that natural sweet flavor and bright natural color. Yum yum!

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by Tina Lim
AFAR Local Expert
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