Much like my quest for the perfect burger last summer, my attempts for falling in love with Uni for the first time after thoroughly hating it twenty years ago, has been proving difficult.
Over New Years Eve, I walked into Arigato Sushi in Santa Barbara upon Tad & Annie’s suggestion for the world famous Santa Barbara uni (arguably the best in the west), when I was told the place was too busy for carry-out. With puppy dog eyes drooping for maximum effect, I was sent away deflated, my head sadly down, uni-less.
The next day I had to leave at the crack of dawn back towards Morro Bay cos I had accidentally left my camera bag behind. I’m quite certain my subconscious left it on purpose; I wanted to see my sister and her family one last time. I didn’t have time to stop back through Santa Barbara for sushi, driving straight to Santa Monica instead.
Saturday afternoon, I was first in Westchester then Silverlake after a wonderful day with wonderful friends and their kids where I was once again Uncle Baldy, eating my fill of cheese, fig butter, olives, bread and wine. But I craved sushi. I craved uni. That night, I was in Echo Park with Tad, Annie and Jay. We tried and we tried.
But no uni.
I was again uni-less.
Today, Tuesday, I am parked in front of Ebisu, in the Sunset. Upon Tad’s suggestion, I am about to walk in.
I want uni.
I want uni!
Outside, the restaurant didn’t look like much. However, it had the most important thing going for it. It was open.
Pleasantly full but not packed with an abundance of good conversation amidst restaurant noise, I sat down in front of the sushi bar with a smile. And of course, I started with an oyster shooter (to remind me of my first sushi experience over twenty years ago at Kamehachi in Chicago) with a quail egg, tobiko, negi, daikon, ginger and ponzu. It was delicious.
I ordered a spider roll sandwiched in between two pieces each of uni, toro and unagi. The spider roll was large and colorful, perfectly fried and delicious. I swallowed the uni whole, savoring every chew as it exploded in a buttery potent flavor reminiscent of the sea. It was amazing. Unagi was my first love. Toro and otoro my next love and my current and last? Uni.
If you want no pretension, good quality sushi with knowledgeable chefs trained in the Edo style, with a simple yet vibrant ambience, visit Ebisu.
I ordered another pair of uni to go.
Eighty dollars later, I walked up and away with the biggest smile.
PS. I’ve had a similar experience with blue cheese. After a lifetime of disliking it, as of this year, it’s my cheese of choice (after five-year-aged-gouda, of course).
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