Hate it or love it (and we’re guessing most of you love it), uni is no longer the polarising delicacy it once was, but a commonly accessible ingredient that’s become somewhat of a fan favourite for HK diners. (Check out these Instagram feeds for some #uniporn). But with everyone jumping on the bandwagon, there’s bound to be plenty of sub-par sea urchin floating around, which is why we’ve handpicked the best uni dishes in town — from the conventional to the creative — to taste the best of what the spiky ocean gem has to offer.
Wagyu steak and sea urchin rice bowl, Ura
A dish that sells itself on looks alone, Ura’s signature rice bowl (HK$438 plus 10 percent surcharge) takes two buttery ingredients — fatty wagyu steak and creamy sea urchin — and pairs them together for the ultimate surf-and-turf combo. The colours pop right away on the plate, from the bright red of top-grade A5 Japanese saga beef to the bright orange of fresh Hokkaido sea urchin, but don’t take too long to get the perfect shot — you’ll want to dig straight in to this beefy rice bowl to savour the ingredients at their prime.
Ura, 2/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2111 9381, facebook.com/urajap
Uni with dashi jelly, Okra
Head chef Max Levy of modern Japanese kitchen Okra is all about experimenting with typical Japanese ingredients in new and imaginative ways, from eel paired with honey miso duck liver to fried dry-aged tuna. Uni is another ingredient that goes off in wacky directions under chef Max’s touch, but these eye-opening combinations are what make us come back to Okra time and again. We love the uni with smoked anchovies and shredded tofu skin available at Okra Kitchen on the ground floor (HK$130 a la carte), but the uni dish served as part of the recently launched tasting menu at Okra Bar upstairs (HK$880 per person) is perhaps even more special — an umami bomb with smoked dashi jelly topped with sea water foam, several pieces of fresh sea urchin, and a dusting of smoked uni as the final flourish.
Okra, G/F, 110 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, +852 2806 1038, okra.kitchen
Sea urchin cup, Sushi Man
So popular that you’re actually recommended to call ahead now and reserve it, Sushi Man’s sea urchin cup has been making the rounds around social media lately, and for good reason. This massive mound of uni topped with a plump botan shrimp costs no less than HK$450, but for sea urchin fans, there’s nothing more indulgent. Sitting on a scoop of vinegared sushi rice, the grainy orange lobes practically spill over the bowl, with more strips than we can count piled on top of each other. Share it at the end of the meal with your dining companion, or have one all to yourself — no one’s judging here.
Sushi Man, Shop 5, G/F, Lee Fat House, 5 Yan Lok Square, Yuen Long, Hong Kong, +852 2285 9477
Scallop and uni tostadas, Chino
The concept of “fusion” can either be a huge hit or go horribly wrong in Hong Kong, but in the case of chef Erik Idos’ Chino, the stars seem to be aligning in his favour. Going on two years now, Chino has gathered a firm fan base who have bought into his Japanese-Mexican fusion bites, from dashi chipotle tortilla soup to Nazaki beef and shishito tacos. One of the signature dishes uses the most practical vessel for scooping up ingredients sans knife and fork — the flat-faced tostada — as a bed for fresh Hokkaido sea scallops and sea urchin (HK$88 per tostada). The satisfying crunch of the toasted corn base contrasts perfectly with the soft scallops and sea urchin, with shredded nori strips on top accentuating the ocean flavours.
Chino, 1B-1C New Praya, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2606 0588, facebook.com/CHINOHKrestaurant
King crab and uni hot pot, Koko
Other than being a killer Central spot to grab Japanese cocktails and bar bites after work, Koko has some comfort dish mainstays on its menu that can’t be ignored. One of our favourites is the king crab and uni hot pot (HK$268), which blends a Western-style risotto cooked in a rich king crab bisque with fresh shredded crab meat and plentiful uni for an East-meets-West comfort food mash-up. The cast-iron pot keeps the rice warmed through as you go back for seconds and thirds.
Koko, 5/F, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2109 1777
Sea urchin pudding, Sushi Shikon
Recently retaining its much-deserved three-Michelin-star status, Sushi Shikon is a temple to fine Japanese gastronomy. With the pristine quality of its ingredients, you’ll undoubtedly find some of the freshest sea urchin in town here, and no matter how it’s presented — whether stacked on seared Mosa shrimp with citrusy sudachi jus, or served simply as nigiri with a crisp nori wrapping, you’ll be able to relish the pure essence of the ocean delicacy with its sweet and briny flavour. One dish that stands out for us is the sea urchin pudding — a twist on the traditional steamed egg custard which features layers of sea urchin and Hokkaido sweet corn puree with a teaspoon of hand-grated wasabi on top for a spicy kick.
Sushi omakase course is priced at HK$3,500 per person.
Sushi Shikon, The Mercer Hotel, 29 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 9697 6800, sushi-shikon.com
Kohlrabi with sea urchin and caviar, Amber
Chef Richard Ekkebus may have dropped his famed sea urchin in lobster jelly, but what has cropped up in its place is just as deserving of praise for the two-Michelin-starred chef. In his latest invention, crisp kohlrabi ribbons are dressed with lime juice and olive oil, topped with a generous dome of schrenki caviar and fresh aka sea urchin. Seemingly simple, you need only take one bite to understand the ingenuity of chef Richard’s preparation methods and pairing of ingredients. Try the dish a la carte or as part of the lunch (HK$1,288 for four courses) or dinner (HK$2,068 for nine courses) tasting menus.
Amber, 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2132 0066, amberhongkong.com
“Uni Three Ways”, ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge
We’re used to seeing artful dishes coming out of Philippe Orrico’s contemporary kitchen ON, but the “Uni Three Ways” (HK$388) brings it to a whole new level. A feast for the eyes and the taste buds, the three individual components here combine to make a delightful degustation of uni: egg custard with a lobster consommé, sea urchin and caviar; marinated hamachi fish ball with a burrata cheese centre topped with uni; and a warm brioche topped with foie gras terrine and sea urchin.
ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge, 29/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2174 8100, ontop.hk