July 12, 2016

Ultimate Guide To BEST UNI (Sea Urchin) PASTA In Singapore!

What is your favorite pasta?

More often than not, the common answer would probably be "aglio olio" or "carbonara" or "vongole". Ask me the question now, the immediate reply would be "UNI PASTA!" (okay, a close fight with Chilled Angel Hair Pasta).

What is Uni (Japanese for sea urchin)? For the uninitiated, that grainy, tongue-like looking delicacy is actually the gonads aka sexual reproductive organs of the sea urchin.

Even though uni is already full of umami sweetness on its own and best savored au naturel, its coagulating properties and silky, custard-like mouthfeel makes it an ideal addition which provided that desirous depth of luxuriousness into any pasta sauce. Crown any uni pasta dish with more of those vibrant orangey curls, the visual and taste factor is immediately oomph to another euphoric high.

Uni, uni, are you the uni one for me? After 18 plates of uni pasta in Singapore, I found a few that has captured my heart.

PinkyPiggu's personal Best 5 Uni Pasta is revealed at end of post.

The below are listed in alphabetical order by restaurant name.

1. Alba 1836
Spaghetti with Mediterranean Sea Urchin, $30++

Nothing to be fault of the spaghetti itself which was cooked to a perfect firmness, but the sea urchin sauce lacked sufficient flavor and depth. A tad disappointing, but perhaps a fresher supply of sea urchin (the ones used were shipped from Spain) is needed to give this dish that much needed lift.

Website | Facebook | 28 Duxton Hill, S(089610) | +65 6222 2048 | Mon-Fri 12pm-2.30pm & 6.30pm-12am, Sat 6.30pm-12am, Closed on Mon

2. Aura
Sea Urchin Pasta, $50++

Aura is an elegant Italian restaurant nestled within the iconic National Gallery of Singapore. Reviews on its food has been mixed, but their rendition of uni pasta was more than decent, with adequate flavors and creaminess enveloping each mouthful. Service was efficient but cold during my visit for lunch.

Website | Facebook | 1 St Andrew Road, #05-03 National Gallery, S(178957) | +65 6866 1977 | Mon-Sun Lunch 12pm-2.30pm & Dinner 6.30pm-10.30pm

3. Bincho at Hua Bee
Uni Cream Udon, $45++ (part of set lunch which includes appetizer, salad, karaage & dessert)

Tucked behind a mee pok eatery and accessible via a backlane by night, Bincho is a modern yakitori bar set against a backdrop of Singapore's past, present and future. This pasta dish lookalike uses udon for that springy carb-worthy bite, but the richness of the cream sauce made it a tad too heavy on the stomach after a while. Uni flavor of the sauce can also be more pronounced. Thankfully pieces of sea urchin were there to do the job of notching up satisfaction level.

Website | Facebook | 78 Moh Guan Terrace #10-19, S(162078) | +65 4567  | Tue-Sun 12pm-3pm & 6pm-12am, closed on Mon

4. Boruto
Uni Pasta, $35.80++

Love the vibes of Boruto, this is where I will "jio" my friends for a weekend night out to enjoy some Japanese-inspired grub. Their rendition of uni pasta has cappellini braised in sea urchin and yuzu stock, and topped with fresh sea urchin. Surprising the dish was easy to finish even though it was rather rich. Could it be due to the addition of Hokkaido white wasabi? Thoroughly enjoyable!

Website | Facebook | 80 South Bridge Road #01-01 Golden Castle Building, S(058710) | +65 6532 0418 | Mon-Sat 4.30pm-12am, Closed on Sun

5. Buono Terra
Uni Pasta, $32++

Set in a charming colonial bungalow along Scotts Road, Buono Terra is the perfect dining destination for a quiet meal of Italian cuisine. What makes it even more perfect? The delectable sea urchin pasta specially crafted by their resident chef Denis Lucchi of course! With pasta that is cooked to an al-dente bite and coated in a flavorsome uni sauce, and generous topping of sea urchin, there's really nothing to fault of the dish.

Website | Facebook | 29 Scotts Road, S(228224) | +65 6733 0209 | Mon-Fri 12pm-2.30pm & 6.30pm-10.30pm, Sat 6.30pm-10.30pm, Closed on Sun

6. Da Luca Italian Restaurant
Warm Sea Urchin Pasta, $70++

Da Luca is best known for their cold truffle angel hair pasta topped with uni, and it is only upon special request that this warm uni pasta dish is available. The price made my eyes popped though, so expensive! But the restaurant justified it by using only fresh Hokkaido uni for the sauce, and not the lower cost option of processed sea urchin paste. Well, the handmade tagliolini was without doubt very well-made and cooked, a most ideal pairing with the luscious sauce and chunks of melt-in-the-mouth sea urchin. For these, the wallet bled willingly.

Website | Facebook | 1 Goldhill Plaza #01-19/21, S(308899) | +65 6258 4846 | Mon-Sun (except Tue) Lunch 12pm-3pm & Dinner 6.30pm-11pm

7. Enoteca L'Opretta
Hokkaido Sea Urchin Aglio Olio Spaghetti, $38++

Enoteca L'Opretta is located in the bustling Boat Quay, and offers scenic dining view by the river. Their version of sea urchin spaghetti has tomato added, which provided a zesty tinge to the pasta dish. Wiped the plate cleaned and wished for more.

Website | Facebook | 78 Boat Quay, S(049866) | +65 6438 2482 | Mon-Fri 12pm-2.30pm & 6pm-10pm, Sat 6pm-10pm, Closed on Sun

8. First 25 Café
Uni Carbonara, $23.90++

Was quite surprised to see that the casual bistro near Tanjong Pagor offers sea urchin pasta on the menu. It would be better if the pasta has a firmer bite, and the accompanying pan-seared scallops were less rubbery, but at this price point, this is still considered pretty okay.

Website | Facebook | 7 Hoe Chiang Road, S(089313) | +65 6221 2565 | Mon-Fri 8am-10pm, Sat 12pm-8pm, closed on Sun

9. Forlino
Linguine Pasta with Hokkaido Sea Urchin, $38++

It has been quite a while since I went back to Forlino, and the Italian restaurant has since welcomed a new chef whose signature dish is... Linguine Pasta with Hokkaido Sea Urchin! Complemented with Sardinia bottarga and yuzu zest, the sauce is of the "gao gao" thick type. It got increasingly rich as I progressed into the plate, but was too delicious for me to leave anything unfinished. A very fulfilling plate of pasta.

Website | Facebook | 1 Fullerton Road, #02-06 One Fullerton, S(049213) | +65 6690 7564 | Mon-Sun 12pm-2.30pm & 6.30pm-11pm

10. Gattopardo
Egg Tagliolini Pasta with Japanese Sea Urchin Sauce, $34++

Was immensely impressed by the food and service during my previous visit to Gattopardo, and thankfully the return trip specially to try their sea urchin pasta was just as fantastic. When compared to the other restaurants, this uni dish might not be the best in presentation, but its taste excelled above all. Everything from the perfectly cooked pasta, the umami briny flavor of the sauce, and the soft tofu-like bite of the sea urchin, It was wondrously enjoyable! Not the most expensive plate either. This is one affordable indulgence I want to eat over and over again!

Website | Facebook | 34 Tras Street, S(079026) | +65 6338 5498 | Mon-Fri 12pm-2.30pm & 6.30pm-10.30pm, Sat 6.30pm-10.30pm, Closed on Sun

11. Izy Dining & Bar
Uni Pasta, $20++, sea urchin topping at additional $10++

Izy Dining & Bar is a take on an urban Izakaya concept serving quality Japanese fare and sake. It's easy to fall in love with Izy's rendition of uni pasta, with that lip-smacking homemade uni sauce made even more luscious with doses of butter and cheese. Though the portion wasn't big, it became just right considering the richness of the dish. I say, go for the topping of fresh sea urchin at an additional cost. When the time comes for indulgence, just go all the way!

Website | Facebook | 27 Club Street, S(069413) | +65 6678 0027 | Mon-Sat 12pm-2.30pm & 5pm-1am, closed on Sun

12. Jekyll & Hyde
Uni Pasta, $24+ (10% service charge, No GST)

The restaurant and bar at Tras Street only opens in the evening, serving Japanese dishes with European influences, alongside a selection of handcrafted drinks. Omasake and off-menu specials item are dependent on the availability of ingredients, so it is not everyday that one will get to try their uni pasta. I must say mine was a delightful plate of briny deliciousness. Interesting to see that the sea urchin is slightly torched before serving.

Website | Facebook | 49 Tras Street, S(078988) | +65 6222 3349 | Mon-Thu 6pm-1am, Fri-Sat 6pm-2am, Closed on Sun

13. Kuriya Japanese Dining
Sea Urchin Pasta, $34++

The restaurant is well-loved for their fine Japanese cuisine, but I'm not too sure about their sea urchin pasta. Though the first few mouthfuls were rather good, the sea urchin cream sauce became increasingly heavy after a while. The intensity of uni flavor can be higher.

Website | Facebook | #01-28 Great World City (Office Tower), 1 Kim Seng Promenade, S(237994) | +65 6736 0888 | Mon-Sun 11.30am-2.15pm & 6pm-10pm

14. Osteria Art
Tagliolini Sea Urchin, $50++

Was tempted to try Osteria Art's 3-course Power Lunch at only $35++ during my visit, but I kept my focus on their sea urchin pasta which is available as a seasonal item. Happy to there on the right day when stock of fresh uni has just arrived! Superbly executed with loadful of flavors, rich yet delicate without the surfeit feeling, the pasta dish hits all the right notes brilliantly! Definitely one of my favorites!

Website | Facebook | 55 Market Street #01-01, S(048941) | +65 6877 6933 | Mon-Fri Lunch 12pm-2.30pm & Dinner 6pm-11pm, Sat 6pm-12am, closed on Sun

15. Otto Ristorante
Sea Urcchin Spaghetti, $32++

Otto seems to be the choice venue for business luncheons judging by the crowd on the day during my visit. Skipping the set lunch options, I aimed straight for the sea urchin spaghetti which was promptly served despite the busy hour. Nothing to be fault of the well-cooked pasta, nor its flavors enhanced with grey mullet bottarga, but the experience feels incomplete without any uni topping. Just not the same.

Website | Facebook | 32 Maxwell Road #01-02, Maxwell Chambers, S(069115) | +65 6227 6819 | Mon-Fri 12pm-2.30pm & 6.30pm-10.30pm, Sat 6.30pm-10.30pm, Closed on Sun

16. Poco Loco
Sea Urchin Pasta, $16nett (cash payment only)

Situated under an HDB block in suburban Ang Mo Kio residential estate, Poco aims to bring Italian cuisine to the heartlands at an affordable price. Their Tagliolini in sea urchin sauce is sometimes offers as an special item on the menu, depending on the availability of sea urchin supply. We did not enjoy the pasta dish though. It lacked the flavor of sea urchin and tasted like its merely tossed in olive oil.

Website | Facebook | Blk 408 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, #01-779, S(560408) | +65 6221 3988 | Mon-Sun 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10pm

17. Ristorante Takada
Tagliolini Pepperoncino Hokkaido Sea Urchin Pasta (part of set lunch: 3-course $38++ & 4-course $48++, additional $8++)

Located along Alexandra Road, the Italian restaurant is helmed by Chef Masahiro Takada, who has honed his skills in Michelin-starred restaurants in both Italy and Japan. The combination of his handmade tagliolini and fresh sea urchin from Hokkaido is a winner in all senses! If you don't know what sublime means, now you can experience it in every bite.

Website | Facebook | #01-07 Alexis, 365 Alexandra Road, S(159948) | +65 6339 3969 | Tue-Sun Lunch 12pm-2pm & Dinner 6pm-10pm, Closed on Mon

18. Terra
Signature Hokkaido Sea Urchin Pasta (part of executive lunch: 3-course $42++ & 4-course $58++, additional $10++)

Pasta with sea urchin from Hokkaido was superbly done! Interestingly, the spaghetti is laboriously hand-made using an ancient-looking tool, resulting in a thicker-than-usual texture. Cooked to al-dente perfection, each bite was a creamy, flavorsome party exploding with uni and bottarga. We only wished there were bigger chunks of sea urchin for greater textural and aesthetic satisfaction.

Website | Facebook | 54 Tras Street, S(078993) | +65 6221 5159 | Mon-Fri 12pm-2.30pm & 6.30pm-11pm, Sat 6.30pm-11pm, Closed on Sun

  PinkyPiggu's Best 5 Uni (Sea Urchin) Pasta 

1. Gattopardo
2. Osteria Art
3. Ristorante Takada
4. Da Luca
5. Terra

All prices stated are in Singapore dollars.

The photos in this post were shot entirely by PinkyPiggu. What about the uni pastas? All in her tummy of course! Lol!

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