Covering the mouthpiece, but apparently not well enough, I whispered "They don't have the fresh uni, do you still want to go?" and was interrupted by a clipped "I believe you misunderstand me. We do have fresh uni. We have fresh uni from Peru and Japan."
Well, pardon me! This sounded like a great opportunity to tease out the subtle differences among the global population of sea urchins, but apparently the rest of town disagreed, because this morning, the line was half what it normally was. We were offered a choice between Peruvian and Japanese sea urchins, and ordered one bowl with each, despite the waitress' enthusiastic vote for the Peruvian variety.
And she was absolutely right. The Peruvian variety (#1 below, minus one piece because I am an impatient glutton) was huge, each bright yellow tongue almost the size of the tongue in my own mouth. The texture was toothsome, with enough of a bite and enough emphasis on the tiny criss-crosses on the surface that I got a tiny hit of the heebie-jeebies thinking that this would be exactly what it would be like to eat my own tongue. Any heebie-jeebies, however, were immediately cancelled out, and more, by a rush of almost candy-like sweetness, tempered of course by that salty, oyster-like tang.
Next to the Peruvian variety, the Japanese stuff (#2 below), tiny and bright orange, which I've been eating and enjoying all my life curled into custard atop seaweed-wrapped rice cylinders, was practically tasteless. I mean, it would have been fantastic had it not been compared to the other one, but it was, and it was tasteless.
Who knew? Peruvian uni!!
I fear I'm about to become the kind of person who's constantly asking after the national origin of restaurants' sea urchin.