Japan is almost a synonym for seafood in the international culinary imagination. Tokyo has an astronomical amount of seafood restaurants — unfortunately, many of the best are difficult to navigate for foreigners. For those looking for a seafood dining experience that pairs quality with friendliness and accessibility, #uni Seafood is a find. Tucked away in the quiet, stylish backstreets of Nogizaka, it’s hard to believe that #uni is only 10 minutes away from the mayhem of Roppongi Station. Entering the restaurants on a cold winter’s evening, the atmosphere was welcoming, with nautical decor and warm lighting offsetting any potential hardness that could be engendered by the blue color scheme, marble counter and bare brick walls.
For readers who are put off by the hashtag in the name, Metropolis’ evening at the restaurant involved a distinct lack of pretentiousness. Instead, the keyword for #uni should be #fresh. The restaurant’s concept is fish-market style dining in Tokyo. When entering the restaurant, you are immediately greeted by today’s offering of fish in an ice-bed. Like a fish market, this changes every day depending on what it can source. You pick out what you want from the display and choose which way you want it cooked (saute, frit, grill, nitsuke etc.). The staff will give thoughtful recommendations on request. Such a bespoke service would be difficult without good Japanese skills. Luckily, #uni had the foresight to hire English speaking staff who can guide you through the process.
Metropolis enjoyed crackers with an uni and cream cheese dip for starters. Despite the etymological appropriateness, we were skeptical that uni and cream cheese would work with the crackers but the pairing was enjoyable. Next was raw oysters — as expected, the freshness was exquisite and paired with lemon, the overall impact was decidedly refreshing. The squid and vegetable fritters that followed were a 180-degrees turnabout in atmosphere, an example of #uni’s variety and tailor-made dishes. The fritters were served in a tin on a newspaper, giving the friendly feel of a British fish and chip shop, only classier. Thanks to the canola flavoring, the quality of the fish and the well-judged batter, they really hit the spot.
After that was a bouillabaisse made from kasugo (young, lean sea bream), which was the highlight of the meal thanks to it’s splendid coloring and flavorful, well-balanced taste. The chef was kind enough to make the leftovers of the bouillabaisse into a risotto, making the most of the richness of the flavors. To finish we had the hamaguri mussels with garlic and herbs, a brilliant ending to a satisfying meal. The Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks Chardonnay recommended by the staff made an excellent pairing to our dinner.