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Side Dish: Uni at Wasabi Bistro in Livermore

Fresh. Very fresh.


Nicholas Boer

I don’t consider myself an expert on sushi, but having bought thousands of fish right off the boat, I do know something about freshness. (The 200-pound ahi tunas I haggled over with Kauai’s best fishermen would be so stiff, I would need to hang and “age” the fish for a day or two before cutting into them.) So I can say, without reservation, that some of the firmest, glossiest, and tastiest fish around right is now being served at Wasabi Bistro in Livermore.

The restaurant’s tuna and hamachi are impressive, but it’s the less-popular varieties, such as sea bass and black snapper, that truly shine. And on my visits, the uni—those golden roe of sea urchin—were marvelous: firm yet creamy, slightly briny and sweet. Harvested mainly off Southern California’s coast, the spiny sea urchin looks pretty sinister, but what’s really scary is uni that’s languished too long. (Some none-too-fresh grade B uni I had years ago almost put me off it forever.)

So when you’re ready to dive in and try this exotic treat, or if it’s already one of your favorite delicacies, check out the uni (and the rest) at Wasabi Bistro. It may not transport you to the sunny climes of Kauai, but it does evoke the bracing ocean breeze (and uni is said to be best in winter).

922 Larkspur Dr., Livermore, (925) 579-2952, wasabi.foodnearu.com Lunch and dinner daily.