Uni is an acquired taste. I have acquired it. It wasn’t hard. It’s slimy, fairly bland, a little bitter (iron?), and a little sweet. I think it’s the bright orange part that bothers most people. And the fact that uni is the gonads of the sea urchin. That could do it too, I suppose. But we eat fish roe (caviar all the time). Maybe because those explode in your mouth and are so darn fun we let them be? (Vegans can spherify their own faux-caviar. Non-vegans can too).
Sweet shrimp should come with their heads, antennae and tails still attached. Insects of the sea, indeed. Their insides are draped over the vinegar-ed rice, allowing the head and tail to hang over the ends like a wilting seesaw. You have to pull the tail off and eat toward the head, or eat the sushi like an ice cream bar (chomping the middle first). The head doesn’t like to come off first, and pulling at it with all those antennae and eyes popping out everywhere (well, just two eyes, thank goodness) is a bit disconcerting, and somewhat unappetizing. For most people. Not for the most determined. The taste is mild, sweet, and soft. They’re not at all salty, and without the salt hiding the flavour, they’re really rather meaty. There are certainly more than five flavours in this world, and this is one of them.
Lake Trout is the sustainable salmon replacement of choice east of Manitoba. BC Sockeye salmon to the west. And they’re better off for it. I don’t care if it came from a lake baptized by David Suzuki, there is just no flavour to this fish. Even farmed Atlantic salmon taste better(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Dress it up in a cajun spice rub, drown it in browned butter (or earth balance), and fry it for Baja fish tacos with lime and jalapenos, but do not put it on perfectly seasoned rice, eat it naked, and expect it to change your world for the better.
I ate these three things as sushi tonight. The lightly marinated and seared BC tuna was better. The sweet shrimp was the best of the 3. I think my love of uni is failing after I saw the plastic tray it comes frozen in, pre-shucked (?) from the urchin. You can buy urchin fresh, you know. Why don’t you see more fresh ones at sushi shops, Hiro? The California roll was better than the uni and trout. Yes, I know. I just wrote “the California roll was better than…” I’m of the belief that, in general, California rolls should roll over and die. Get it? Roll over. But that sushi rice was extremely good. If only the trout had been able to keep up. Someone should tell it to go find an ocean somewhere. Hunt things. Have a little adventure. I think there was a movie about that once. Something about a fish. All I remember from it, though, is that monkfish are ugly.
930 King West
One tiny table, but it’s really a take-out place. $5 for a few piece of uni, trout or sweet shrimp. Generous lunch specials and sushi and sashimi combos. Light as air tamago egg sushi. Seaweed-heavy miso and great soy sauce. My favourite sushi chef in the city. $45-$55 for two sushi snobs like me.