Onigiri (rice balls) are to Japanese as sandwiches are to westerners – a quick, cheap, healthy and portable source of nourishment. Also like the humble sandwich, in recent times they have had a “premium” makeover.  Unlike the premium sandwiches, they’re still cheap!

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

Omusubi Gonbei is a chain of onigiri shops that has exploded in the last few years. As the lines at lunch time attest, their combination of stylish interiors and hand made onigiri with a variety of interesting flavours is a big hit with the Japanese public.

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

They have an enormous number of onigiri flavours – 43 according to the web site. Flavours include wild salmon with salmon roe (you get to eat the entire life cycle), ‘cheese okaka’, octopus, and chicken mayo.  If they don’t have the onigiri you want in the display case, you can ask them to make one for you.  Additionally, for dining in, you can add a miso soup set for 150yen.

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The onigiri pictured at the top of the post are a Shiso-Chirimen (Shiso leaf with whitebait wrapped in nori) for 180yen and a Jako Genmai (brown rice mixed with white bait and topped with sesame seeds) for 160yen.

Locations:

Akabane, Akasaka, Akihabara, Aoyama, Fuchu, Funabashi, Hachioji, Hibiya, Hongo, Iidabashi, Kamata, Kameido, Kamioka, Kasumigaseki, Kawasaki, Kitasenju, Makuhari, Marunouchi, Ochanomizu, Ōsaki, Otemachi, Sayama, Shiba, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Shinjuku, Shinyokohama, Shiodome, Tsunashima, Yotsuya.

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