The Food Chain

Yank Sing Co-owner Admires Bar Masa’s Uni Risotto

Bar Masa's uni risotto with corn and black truffles
Bar Masa’s uni risotto with corn and black truffles Photo: Melissa Hom

Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds, and then picks their own. On and on it goes. Last week, Los Angeles chef Sang Yoon discussed San Francisco soup dumplings with Yank Sing co-owner Vera Chan-Waller. Your pick, Chan-Waller!

Who: Vera Chan-Waller, co-owner Yank Sing, San Francisco
What: Uni Risotto
Where: Bar Masa, New York
When: May 5, 2009, while visiting New York to pick up a James Beard Foundation America’s Classic award.

“Usually with the sea urchin you eat it on its own or with a piece of rice — sushi. In the risotto you’re eating it hot instead of cold. It basically infuses the flavors into the risotto. As you’re eating it, the steam comes up into your nostrils and it’s amazing. It’s sweet. It’s that seafood sweetness. You can smell that aroma. You don’t actually feel the texture of the uni anymore because it’s sort of all melted into the risotto, but you taste the sweetness of it.”

Chef Masa Takayama Responds:

“It works well together because the rice soaks up the flavor from the uni. The flavor depicts luxury: it’s buttery; it’s soft; it has gentle flavors. I’ve been serving it for 20 years since creating it in Los Angeles. Upon returning from my morning routine of fish and flower markets, I sometimes made okayu (rice congee) for breakfast. I took some leftover uni from the night before and mixed it in. That was the start of the uni risotto. It is always on the menu at Bar Masa.”

Check out Grub Street New York to see what dish Masa Takayama picked.

Yank Sing Co-owner Admires Bar Masa’s Uni Risotto