It is often very hard to even get uni in many places (which is blamed on sometimes weather and/or sea otters) and even when I can order it, it is not of uniform golden color but sort of mixed. I suspect this might be (my research yields) "vani" which is a mixture of chunks that have broken off and are collected together and sold.

I am not only somewhat picky about looks but even more concerned about safety and of course taste. Years ago, I don't recall getting anything other than just pure chunks of golden, no brown, uni.

Is the brown just normal color range or is it somewhat spoiled or is it even, shudder, part of the sea urchin that is not actually uni?

I did find this by searching for sea urchin roe, not "uni" and it sounds like brown is not a good thing: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/223038425_Factors_causing_Brown-colored_gonads_of_the_sea_urchin_Strongylocentrotus_nudus_in_northen_Honoshu_Japan

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    This depends on where your uni is being sourced from. I find that uni from Canada seems to naturally be a darker brown colour (and larger) than Japanese uni. It's definitely a lower quality but I've had it several times without problems. Furthermore, if you've opened up fresh uni the 'tongues" definitely vary in colour. I'm guessing that higher end restaurants only serve top shelf product which is harvested for uniform size/colour, so I wouldn't be too worried as long as it doesn't have a fishy smell coming from it. More concerning would be dark spots in the uni. Jan 8, 2021 at 17:38
  • part of sushi is appearance irrespective of taste and i sure prefer uniform golden color which indeed the best place i eat at, always busy so can afford to buy the best because they can sell it, has this.
    – releseabe
    Jan 8, 2021 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


It should always be bright yellow to orange. The brownish hue you are talking of makes me worry about age and age equals increased bacterial content. https://harborfish.com/what-is-uni-a-complete-guide-to-sea-urchin/

  • I sure was off put by it and the best places serve uniform golden uni. I would never serve mixed brown and gold. Sushi is at least 30% appearance, 30% health and nutrition and final 40% are the various aspects of physical enjoyment: taste/texture etc.
    – releseabe
    Apr 13, 2021 at 1:24
  • the link u provide shows some nice-looking uni and of course vids about best sushi places would show only golden uni. how scary if someone tried using dyes/food coloring as definitely occurs at some non-sushi places (i am pretty sure the green of the avocados i have been served ain't natural some times). but how spoiled we are today -- 100 years ago seafood unless you lived by the sea was nothing like today.
    – releseabe
    Apr 13, 2021 at 1:36

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