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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Noodle Tuesday: uni pasta

So far, all the noodles for Noodle Tuesday have embodied down-home comfort. This week, here’s one that’s more luxe in its ingredients, and yet more simple in its preparation than any of the others: uni pasta—ocean's butter melting into hot pasta, its creamy brininess coating every strand.

While it's taking a while for sea urchin to jump from its rice pedestal at the sushi bar to more creative preparations in other Honolulu restaurants, Japanese-Italian places have been combining uni with their spaghetti for years now. Here are three restaurants where uni pasta is as much a staple on the menu as spaghetti and meatballs at an American-Italian spot. In order of preference:

Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare at Arancino at The Kahala
Pure decadence. Uni heaped over the mound of spaghetti, uni bound in a cream sauce tossed with the pasta—the uni is so abundant and mesmerizing. If you are the kind of person who believes “too rich” is such a thing, then pair this pasta with the recommended sauvignon blanc; its acidity cuts through the cream, leaving only the lingering taste of uni in your mouth.
$27 a la carte at lunch,

Uni pasta at Chez Kenzo
This one will not sing uni the way Arancino’s does, but instead offers a beautiful harmony of shiso, tobiko, nori and uni, with just a touch of acid that brings out the best in everything. The price also makes it the one I'd eat the most often.

Ricci di mare at Bernini
I am rarely disappointed at Bernini, but when I am expecting a creamy uni pasta, this is an utter letdown. The uni has been overcooked (perhaps cooked in a pan sauce instead of being tossed into the hot pasta), leaving only an eggy flavor and none of the sweet creaminess. It's topped by a lonely lobe that serves more as a garnish than any meaningful component of the dish.

Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in Permalink

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About This Column

From five-star restaurants to hidden holes-in-the-wall, Biting Commentary will let you know what’s hot and what’s not. Find out the latest restaurant news—who’s opening, who’s closing, which chef is moving on, where the great special dinners are. Discover the best menu items, fabulous wines, stunning cocktails, hand-crafted beers. Be the first to hear about upcoming food events and festivals.

Food editor Martha Cheng graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in Computer Science and English. She's a former line cook, food truck owner, Peace Corps volunteer and Google techie. Follow her on Twitter @marthacheng.


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