Friday, July 15, 2016

Itadori Kurau @Tsukiji Tokyo : Uni Hitsumabushi

Many people have told me about this restaurant in Tsukiji that specializes in Uni cuisine.Though there are many other restaurants in Tsukiji that sells Uni rice bowls, I must say this is truly a dreamland for Uni lovers as everything is devoted to Sea urchin. For example, there is the Instagram-worthy rice bowl that is overflowing with so much Uni that the excess spilled out from the bowl or the 5 different types of nigiri sushi for diners to taste and compare the Uni from different sources. In fact, it has a few sister outlets in Tsukiji, each with a slightly varying menu so you have to do your homework in advance if you are looking to try a particular dish. 


The most popular dish here is the Uni Hitsumabushi (¥2380/¥2880), a "fishy" twist to the usual Unagi Hitsumabushi we have in Nagoya. I say, fishy, is the word because some people is not used to the degree of raw-ness in this huge sushi rice bucket that is good for sharing. 

It's a like a Chirashi Don eaten according to the rituals in a Hitsumabushi. First, enjoy half of it in its original taste like a kaisendon, taking only bits of Uni in every spoon of rice. It's hard NOT to scoop a bit more Uni but you have to remind yourself to ration the scare goods. There's only that much Uni in the bowl and they are costly. 

Next step is to eat the remaining half like a chirashidon, mixing the rice with more sashimi, sweet mushrooms, lotus roots and pickled gourds. It's alright not to follow the order since no one will give you a serious reprimanding on it. I ate like a chirashidon since other ingredients got into way easily. We dug into the rice heartily and preferred the first two ways of eating rather than the final way, to pour dashi into the rice. The plain broth did nothing to enhance the seafood flavors but watered them down into quite a soggy mess. 

Nonetheless, what I enjoyed best was the Creamy Uni Rice (¥1720/¥2380). The bowl of rice luxuriated in a pool of white creamy sauce and crowned with so much Uni that it drove us more excited than the previous dish. Setting this apart from the usual western-style dishes was the konbu (kelp) broth which imbued umami depth into otherwise a very flat, pedestrian sauce. Rest assured that it was not overwhelmingly rich as it looked, not even to the extent of risottos since the rice had not been simmered in the sauce. 

However, do note that there are basically  two different kinds of sea urchin used at Itadori, either local or overseas. The Creamy Uni dish came with more uni for the price since overseas uni was used. So prepare to splurge if you are a huge Uni fan who prefers the locally harvested uni. 

Given that this is a Uni-specialty shop (雲丹専門店), there were a shortage of non-raw or non-Uni dishes. We also had the Seared Wagyu with Sea Urchin Rice Bowl (¥4298) but the meat was too raw and the flavors were muted here. Needless to say, this bowl did not justify the crazy price tag. With plenty of restaurants in Tsukiji, I'm sure there are better places to visit other than Itadori for a uni-licious feast. 

Itadori Uni Kurau 
東京都中央区築地4-10-14加藤市場1F
Chuo-ku Tsujihi 4-10-14 Kato Shijo 1F

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