Slideshow: Where To Eat Great Sea Urchin In NYC

A Sea of Tongues
A Sea of Tongues
Most of the year, urchin comes packed in wooden boxes shipped from Japan. These are a perfectly fine product and tend to have a nice firm texture, mild flavor, and uniform shape and size. In the winter months, live sea urchin from Santa Barbara and Maine hit the market. They tend to be more intensely flavored, though also irregularly shaped and oftentimes a bit mushy. I am not picky. I love them all the same.

Warm water sea urchin tends to be blander and mushier than their cold water counterparts. I don't eat much live urchin in warm ocean water areas.

Spaghetti with Crab, Sea Urchin, and Basil from Marea ($31)
Spaghetti with Crab, Sea Urchin, and Basil from Marea ($31)
The pasta at Marea—or any Michael White restaurant, in fact—is uniformly great. Flavorful with a nice al dente bite, the Spaghetti ($31) comes bathed in a sauce made with White's pomodoro base. When an order is placed, the rich and sweet tomato sauce is puréed with sea urchin, its signature metallic brininess coating every crack and crevice in the tender chunks of crab meat, bathing each strand of spaghetti in its glorious ocean flavor. A handful of bread crumbs tops the plate. This is my favorite pasta dish in the city. Full review here).
Sea Urchin and Crab Tartine at Boulud Sud ($19)
Sea Urchin and Crab Tartine at Boulud Sud ($19)
Crisp squares of seaweed bread topped with crab meat bound in a light lemon cream and topped with a fat tongue of sea urchin, a paper thin slice of radish, and a briny green olive. There're a lot of salty, briny elements to the Sea Urchin and Crab Tartine ($19), so it's a good thing the cocktails at Boulud Sud are as good as the food.

Boulud Sud: 20 West 64th Street New York, NY 10023 (map); 212-595-1313; danielnyc.com/boulud_sud.html

Oyster Pan Roast at The John Dory Oyster Bar ($15)
Oyster Pan Roast at The John Dory Oyster Bar ($15)
The tarragon-scented creamy Oyster Pan Roast ($15) is one of the best things on the John Dory's menu, but even better is the thin crostini topped with whipped sea urchin butter that comes alongside it. I like to dip the end in the oyster stew, letting the uni and butter melt into the broth before diving in.

See our full review here.

The John Dory Oyster Bar: 1196 Broadway New York, NY 10001 (map); 212-792-9000; thejohndory.com

The Uni Tempura at Shabu Shabu 70 ($9.75)
The Uni Tempura at Shabu Shabu 70 ($9.75)
Shabu Shabu 70 is what every underspoken neighborhood sushi joint should aspire to be. No frills, just nothing but high quality fresh fish and a few carefully selected appetizers. Up there on the top of that list is the Uni Tempura ($9.75), which comes either wrapped in sheets of nori, or a shiso leaf before being battered and deep fried into a crispy and craggly on the outside, creamy and oceany on the inside perfect two-bite dish.

See our full review here.

Shabu Shabu: 314 E 70th St # 1 New York, NY 10021 (map); 212-861-5635

The Uni Panino at El Quinto Pino ($15)
The Uni Panino at El Quinto Pino ($15)
It's the sandwich that Peter Meehan declared to be "The Sandwich of the Year" back in 2007, and the Uni Panino ($15) from El Quinto Pino is just as good today. Nothing but bread stuffed with sea urchin and grilled to a crisp, creamy, buttery finish. Sea urchin at its simplest.

See our full review here.

El Quinto Pino: 401 West 24th Street New York, NY 10001 (map); 212-206-6900; elquintopinonyc.com