Update: Saikai is now closed
When I was in New York City in 2015, Sue and I found out that we both were big uni (sea urchin) lovers, so Sue suggested that we tried Saikai, which is known for delicious dishes with Santa Barbara uni. Unfortunately, due to the recent Southern Californian oil spill, no Santa Barbara uni was available, but Saikai still had a few specials on the menu with Japanese uni, which we ordered instead. One of them was uni-risotto, which is, hands down, the best uni dish, I’ve ever had. Who would have thought uni, truffle and rice could be such an amazing combo?
I’ve later on visited Saikai’s website, but I couldn’t find the risotto anywhere on their online menu. Instead, there’s a uni pasta, which is probably great too, but I really, really hope that the uni risotto is still around the next time I go. We also had sake. Lots of sake. When I arrived Mende and Sue had already finished half a carafe, and during the meal, we ordered one more. It was served ice cold, and the taste was smooth and fruity, nice!
Saikai is a stylish Japanese restaurant in West Village. The menu at Saikai is a limited, but tantalizing, selection of dishes made from prime ingredients such as Japanese wagyu, oysters, truffle and uni (sea urchin). Talking about sea urchin, the uni risotto at Saikai is the best uni dish I’ve ever had. You can add truffle for an additional $14 and trust me, it is money well spent.
There’s a good selection of sake and Japanese beer, and when I dined at Saikai, we had plenty of both, which might explain the fact that I don’t remember the exact price of any of the beverages we’ve had. I think we paid around $15-20 for the small bottle of sake we shared in the beginning of the meal:)
The menu reflects the seasonal availability of the ingredients, so when I was there, they only served Japanese uni (sea urchin) because the Santa Barbara oil spill had caused a drop in the Californian uni supply.
Some of the dishes are small plates while others are more filling, but the staff can help you navigate the menu. Depending on how hungry you are and how expensive your taste is, expect to pay around $40-60 for food.
• All items on the special bar menu are $5, but they’re only served in the bar.