Niku-Uni at Takashi in the West Village, NYC
It might be the city's strangest snack: A finger of scintillatingly fresh sea urchin, seductive in its dark orangeness and tasting of ocean breakers, lies atop a piece of fat-crazed raw beef. Specifically, it's chuck flap cut like sashimi. Underneath this culinary odd couple is a fresh shiso leaf, providing a cinnamony savor, but also a nice contrasting green color. Underneath the leaf is a sheet of crunchy nori, the dried seaweed that figures in every sushi roll.
Who would invent such an odd combo? And who, at $24 for four small pieces, would pay for it?
It turns out to be one of the most popular snacks at Takashi (recently reviewed by Sarah DiGregorio), the new offal-driven Japanese grill in the West Village. The taste is rich without being assertively so, and the flap doesn't really read as beef at all, but only as a piece of slippery fat that helps the urchin slide down more easily.
Ten-to-one you'll look up after the first bite and say, "I really dug that."