Fo0die dined as a guest of Uni Boom Boom and as such, the rating does not give any consideration to customer service.
If you haven’t heard of “uni” (pronounced as oo-nee), which is the Japanese word for sea urchin, then you may want to consider visiting Uni Boom Boom, a sea urchin experience cafe. Located in Glen Waverley, the venue aims to educate consumers about Australian sea urchin (did you know they are considered pests?) while also offering sea urchin and edible birds nest dishes (which are both very expensive ingredients especially overseas in Asian countries) at a more affordable price.
And when one reads ‘more affordable price’, there is an emphasis on ‘more affordable’; this isn’t a cheap eat however when compared to how much you would pay to eat sea urchin elsewhere (just a small portion too), Uni Boom Boom is ‘more affordable’ with the amount that you get and amount paid for it. This is thanks to Uni Boom Boom sourcing these ingredients from their parent companies, Pacific Sea Urchin and Sen Lin Tang (Aus) Pty Ltd, therefore, removing the middleman. They have divers who collect the sea urchins, a facility to process the sea urchins which then gets delivered to Uni Boom Boom as well as other restaurants in Australia and overseas.
The location of the venue and the appearance of the venue is very unsuspecting. On our first visit (we’ve been twice now at the time of writing), we weren’t sure we were at the right place. There are no other restaurants on the street and only the signs helped confirm the warehouse/car garage was what we had come for. On our second visit, a red sea urchin character now sits in front of the garage.
Walking through the door leads you into a small space filled with information about sea urchins and how Uni Boom Boom came about and a small counter. Turning left leads you into the ‘warehouse feel’ dining space. This area has display cabinets on one end filled with edible birds nest, fridge on the right hand side filled with sea urchin and salmon sashimi and a counter and kitchen area. On the left wall is beautiful ‘under the sea’ mural which spans the entire length of the venue.
Although they have been categorised under ‘Japanese’ cuisine, the venue describes their dishes as being inspired by Japanese and Chinese cuisine (and therefore I’ve also categorised them under ‘Asian’ cuisine). Their menu consists of a range of dishes which allows diners to try sea urchin in the style that they prefer, from sashimi platters to sea urchin trays to smaller appetisers to rice bowls. And if sea urchin isn’t really what you’re after, the venue also has dishes without sea urchin (e.g. salmon, eel, abalone, vegetarian rice bowl).
After we ordered, we were served a small complimentary appetiser which changes (on the second visit we had seaweed salad) and sea urchin flavoured popcorn.
Our first dish was the regular sized sashimi platter (they also have a large on the menu), we think the regular would serve 3-4 nicely as an entree. Between the two of us, we got a little sashimi-ed out. The platter was filled with fresh salmon, tuna, scallops and of course sea urchin (A grade). The sea urchin had a slight sweetness and creaminess to it and a unique after flavour which we can only describe as what the ocean might taste like (an ABC article describes it as a powerful nutty aftertaste). We were also given dry seaweed on the side to help bring out the flavour of the sea urchin.
So what does ‘A grade’ mean? The venue has three grades of sea urchin, ‘A grade’ which is described as soft and creamy, ‘Premium grade’ described as consistent in flavour and ‘Supreme grade’ described as their top quality sea urchin. By default, all the dishes (unless stated otherwise on the menu) use ‘A grade’ but diners are welcome to request for the higher grades which will be charged at the market price.
Our next dish was the wagyu urchin don (rice bowl) with tender wagyu. If you order this, then we recommend that you taste the sea urchin by itself first before mixing it with the wagyu and rice. Once mixed in, the sea urchin flavour isn’t quite as strong.
On a separate visit, we tried a new dish which contained sea urchin cooked with the spaghetti (the flavour of the sea urchin was considerably more subtle when cooked), fresh sea urchin on top and caviar all around the sides which added a nice texture to the slightly spicy pasta dish.
While we both have tried sea urchin before in smaller portions usually at Japanese restaurants, the venue was a worthwhile visit for us to really try and taste sea urchin. Our conclusion is, we aren’t crazy over it but we don’t hate it either. What we will say is that sea urchin has quite a unique flavour to it and it is an acquired taste similar to durian or blue cheese etc. And if it is your first time trying it, you may want to consider the venue’s recommendation to try it with baked cheese on rice which tones down the sea urchin’s flavour.
Dishes that make up this review
- Uni boom boom seafood platter ($88 for regular size)
- Boom boom wagyu urchin don ($68)
- Sea urchin caviar spaghetti ($45)