Save your ang pows for this specialty hotpot that costs $86.90 per person at Torikin Japanese Restaurant, for a limited period.

It’s time to uni-te your family and friends for this uni-que hotpot this Chinese New Year! Sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun-ny opportunities offered up by this luxurious experience.

Torikin Authentic Japanese Restaurant has just introduced the first uni (sea urchin) shabu shabu in Singapore from its original restaurant in Fukuoka, available now till the end of January. The restaurant at Crown Centre, Bukit Timah is celebrating its second anniversary, and is mainly visited by Japanese for its numerous mizutaki (chicken hotpot) options.

The highly prized Japanese uni, or sea urchins, are a rare treat for its creamy texture and complex briny and slightly nutty flavours–and which would cost about $80 for 80g at the supermarket.

The golden dish

Diners are first given a small teacup of broth to appreciate the pure flavours before fish slices, scallops, prawns, vegetables and uni specially flown in from Kyushu are added to the simmering claypot of uni stock.

Uni hotpot porridge

Uni hotpot porridge

The luxuriously silky and rich stock is made from bonito, uni essence and uni paste imported from Japan. While it may sound like a recipe for a overly fishy tasting broth, it was perfectly balanced with an unmistakable uni flavour which lends the soup a sweet yet complex taste.

A set for one ($86.90++ per pax, minimum 2 persons) comprises salmon, tuna, kanpachi, scallop, prawns, uni, and assorted vegetables. For the first course, diners are served the uni and fish slices which are briefly dipped, shabu-shabu style in the boiling broth along with vegetables. Additional servings of sashimi ($42), assorted vegetables ($12.90), udon ($8.90) and porridge ($5.90) can also be ordered.

What follows is the best part of the dish where a porridge (zosui) is made with the remaining velvety, unami-rich broth and served with the remaining golden, briny morsels. For lovers of uni like myself, the hotpot  is a real splurge  whichalasseemed to be over too soon. If you have a fairly hearty appetite, do note the portion  won’t be enough as a main meal, so you’ll also need to order some other things from the menu.

Chicken essence

Chicken meatballs in Mizutaki hotpot

Chicken meatballs in mizutaki hotpot

While we were there, we also tried the signature of the restaurant, traditional Hakata mizutaki chicken hotpot ($36.90++ per pax, minimum 2 persons) featuring a milky-white collagen-rich stock that has been boiled for five hours using whole chickens.

Like the uni hotpot, diners are served a small tea cup of stock at the start of the meal. All of the cooking and serving is done by the waitstaff, so that you can just relax.

Courses of boiled chicken chunks served with a ponzu dip, chicken meatballs and vegetables follow before ending with a choice of porridge, udon or ramen cooked in the remaining flavourful and nourishing broth. Additional servings of chicken ($28.90), chicken meatballs ($18.90), vegtables ($12.90), ramen ($8.90) and porridge ($5.90) can be ordered. Compared to the uni hotpot, the mizutaki is a lot more affordable, and the chicken gives a comforting satisfaction after eating it, especially if you’re feeling under the weather.

Dumpling delight

gyoza

Do not miss the house favourite, Hakata-style small gyoza ($16.90/ 10 pcs). Filled with minced chicken, the dainty dumplings are fried with an extra crispy “skirt” around them. Inside, the meat was still steaming moist and juicy.

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 6-11pm; Sat-Sun 12-3pm, 6-11pm
#01-14/16 Crown Centre, 557 Bukit Timah Road. Tel 6465 5908