5 Authentic Onigiri (Rice Ball) Shops in Tokyo
Onigiri (rice ball) is one of Japan’s traditional and “popular” foods. Rice ball is excellent as a preservative and portable food, can be enjoyed in a variety of ways depending on which filling to choose, and as such, has long been loved in Japanese households. Its popularity never seems to wane and you can find many shops around Japan each serving onigiri with its own unique twist. Photo: flickr.com
Here we are taking a look at 5 great shops serving delicious onigiri in Tokyo.
This onigiri shop boasts special onigiri all of whose ingredients, from rice to dried seaweed and salt, are selected with meticulous care. Its first shop opened inside Tokyo Station in 2002 and now a couple of its branches can be found around the Kanto area.
They are hand making their onigiri at each of their shops in a wish to deliver the taste of mother’s cooking and love that most Japanese people enjoy in their childhood.
Their choice of rice is Koshihikari, one of Japan’s representative rice brands, and the seasoning salt is one produced from rich mineral sea water. Also, the sawara cypress container they use to keep cooked rice in order to dissipate the residual moisture in the rice is another example of their meticulous attention and care. Besides typical fillings, onigiri served here often features special seasonal fillings.
Many of their branches are located inside railway stations and allows customers to eat in, so you can just drop in one of them for a quick and easy grab.
Omusubi Gonbei is an onigiri shop chain with multiple branches around the Kanto area. What first catches your eye at their shops is the voluminous size of each onigiri. It’s one and a half times the size of average onigiri on the market!
They make every single one of their onigiri by hand at each shop as they value directly conveying the great love and care they pour into their products through the hands. They pay attention not to add too much pressure to onigiri when shaping them into balls because it would ruin the texture of high quality rice. So the texture of their onigiri remains fluffy.
They have rice delivered from their contract farms and also dispatch the company staff to those farms to help rice planting and harvesting so they rightly feel and understand the preciousness of rice.
What is also great about their onigiri is its cheap price for the voluminous size. Healthy brown rice onigiri is among the top recommendations here. Their branches are located in business districts, many of which have their own eat-in space. They are thus frequented as convenient onigiri shops particularly by business workers.
Located inside Otsuka Station with an eat-in space, Bongo is a long-established onigiri shop with a history of over 35 years. Here you can sit at the counter table and enjoy onigiri freshly made right across the counter. Of course, you can also choose to take away.
Onigiri here is quite voluminous and even only one of them can be quite filling. But when you see the great variety of fillings of over 50 types, you will surely feel like trying a few. The menu also has a set menu of miso soup and onigiri that offers a good deal. Onigiri with sujiko (salmon roe) filling, priced at double of other onigiri, is the popular specialty here. You might well hesitate at the price, but you won’t regret once you enjoy the brilliant taste.
The popularity of this shop is among the top few in Tokyo and they have not only everyday-regular customers but even those who stop over at the particular train station just to enjoy their onigiri. Watching close at hand the skilled cooks earnestly make onigiri with freshly cooked hot rice can surely make another great feature of this shop. Information: Map
Jukichi is an onigiri shop chain managed by Kyotaru, the company that caters sushi and deli foods. Many of the branches can be found on the underground floors of department stores around the Kanto area.
Their onigiri is made with Koshihikari, the rice that tastes good even cold, and kettle-roasted sea water salt. For the dried seaweed, the fragrant variety from the Ariake Sea is used. Every single ingredient of their onigiri well showcases the great attention paid to onigiri making.
At one of their branches in Shibuya, exploiting the advantage of the shop’s location, they serve onigiri featuring seaweed printed with the face of Hachiko, the dog which became famous nationwide for his loyalty to the owner and was made into a statue, which is today the symbol of the town of Shibuya. Another branch located in Tokyo Solamachi, the commercial establishment right under Tokyo Sky Tree, provides onigiri named “Super Jumbo 634,” the gigantic size of which – weighing 634 grams – is themed on the 634 meters tall Tokyo Sky Tree. Such playfulness of their promotional ideas often provides a great topic of interest.
While it varies by fillings, overall prices are quite reasonable and it’s just hard to resist dropping by and grasping an onigiri or two when you happen to be in the nearby area feeling a slight hunger in your belly.
Yunotani Tawara Daimyo
Yunotani is a company pursuing to provide the best of Japanese food, especially focusing on rice products. Tawara Daimyo is their take-away onigiri shop chain with a total of 12 branches tenanting Sogo Department and Seibu Department stores in Tokyo.
Their shops provide onigiri made with carefully selected rice from Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture, one of Japan’s most iconic rice producing areas. The size of each onigiri is relatively small, but the exquisite sensibility in the way they make onigiri can bring the best taste out of rice for you to enjoy. Besides onigiri with typical fillings, they also provide the ones with more rare ingredients such as braised pork, sweet soy sauce flavored boiled anago eel and cheese bonito.
Among them, if you want to enjoy the pure and genuine taste of rice, you should definitely go for plain salt seasoned onigiri (shio musubi). With such meticulous care given to the selection and preparation of rice, it tastes great even cold, so you can get it to go and still enjoy its wonderful taste. Information: Map
In Japan, you can easily find and purchase onigiri at convenience stores and elsewhere. But the taste of freshly handmade onigiri offered at these onigiri shops is exceptional. Make sure to enjoy authentic onigiri and experience the very basic of Japanese flavors at these onigiri shops!
Related: Other Onigiri Articles