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The One and Uni: Premium Japanese Sea Urchin

Jul 16 2020 - Blog

Known as “Fish Butter” or “Butter of the Sea”, uni is the Japanese term for the edible part of sea urchin ─ specifically the gonads. Each spiny sea urchin bears five delicate lobes. While some people consider uni to be an acquired taste, the delicacy has scores of fans in Japan and around the world. Uni lovers fall head over heels for its buttery texture, praising especially the rich, creamy and full-rounded umami flavour of high quality uni.

Uni possesses impressive nutritional benefits as a good source of protein, fibre, vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium and iodine. Generally, two to three pieces of uni contain only about 125 calories, which makes it a low-fat seafood. High in omega-3 fatty acids, uni is a good food choice for reducing the risk of abnormal heartbeat and promoting good blood circulation. 

Japanese uni are common harvested off the bottom of Shakotan Peninsula, west coast of Hokkaido. After they are picked from the seabed, the uni are cracked open, thoroughly cleaned, and repackaged before being freshly shipped. Because of the amount of hard work and labour involved, uni usually fetches a premium price especially for the higher graded ones.

When it comes to grading and differentiating quality uni from low quality ones, a few factors come into play, i.e. freshness, colour, taste and texture. Technically, uni with brighter yellow/gold hue are classified into higher grades and therefore retailed at higher prices. Amongst the varieties of sea urchin out there, the vibrance, firmness and dryness of Bafun Uni (Horse Dung Sea Urchin with deep orange gonads) and Murasaki Uni (Purple Sea Urchin with mustard yellow gonads) make them one of the most valued premium types.


Four Types of Uni You’ve Got to Try

1. Ensui Uni

Ensui Uni is considered the sweetest of the four common species of uni. It is usually kept in saltwater solution to mimic the sea’s salt level. This uni has a tofu-like texture that brings you an experience as close as you can get from cracking sea urchin by the beach.


2. Medium Grade Uni

Known for its orange-gold skin, this medium grade uni carried by Sky Premium is freshly imported from Russia. The quality and texture are silky and delicate, and the flavour is much sweeter and richer compared to the Murasaki Long Spike Sea Urchin.


3. Bafun Uni

Bafun Uni is known for its bright red colour and it is commonly served in higher-end restaurants. It is usually found in much deeper ocean depths, and recognisable by its rich umami and slightly bitter taste.


4. Murasaki Uni

Murasaki Uni is the most common type of uni in Japan. This mildly sweet sea urchin is known for its dark purple colour and mustard yellow gonads. It is best eaten as sushi or sashimi. 


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Craving for Italian Fare While in Need of Your Uni Fix?

Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar has just the right dish – Cold Angel Hair. This creative dish is crafted with fresh sea urchin, snow crab meat and 5gr Carelian Caviar.

Distinguished for its fascinating character and strong identity, Garibaldi emphasises authentic Italian cuisine prepared with the best ingredients directly imported from Italy.

Savour Michelin-starred Italian cuisine today with Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar.


Visit Tokyo’s Famous Toyosu Fish Market

Rise and shine at Tokyo's renowned Toyosu Fish Market!

Watch the morning tuna auction, hunt for ocean catch and enjoy a fresh seafood breakfast. In the noon, indulge in a delicious Japanese Uni Deluxe lunch, where you get to savour one of the most amazing delicacies in the world, only in Japan! 

As the world's biggest fish market, Toyosu Fish Market is also home to various museum-style exhibits showcasing Japan's seafood history. In your day tour, go beyond Toyosu and explore the outer markets of Tsukiji with over 600 merchants and taste some of the local favourites.



Keen to find out more? Contact our Lifestyle Team at lifestyle [at] today!

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