The Onigiri Matrix

Phoebe Stephens

Onigiri (rice balls) are a cheapo staple in Japan and are available at every convenience store and supermarket in the land.  To the uninitiated, they look like some kind of exotically shaped sushi, but they differ from sushi in that the rice doesn’t contain vinegar.  They aren’t just available at supermarkets and convenience stores either – there are also gourmet onigiri shops at which the staff will make the onigiri while you wait.  The tradition of onigiri in Japan dates back to the Nara period about 1,500 years ago.  You’ll also find the lovingly home-made variety in kids lunch boxes and in weekend picnic hampers.

I found the onigiri below at my local 7 Eleven and bought every flavor available so I could try the most varieties. I came across three different types of fish roe, canned tuna and salmon, anchovy and vegetarian fillings. The ratings are of course my own.  If you have a favorite onigiri flavor, let us know about it in the comments.

Prices ranged from 105yen to 138yen.

TranslationPackageInsideRating
Sujiko Shoyu-ZukeSalted salmon roe with soy sauce Sujiko OnigiriSujiko Onigiri Inside★ ★ ★ ★
Nama Tarako
Raw cod roe
 Nama Tarako Onigiri PackageNama Tarako Onigiri Inside★ ★
Beni Shake
Pink salmon
 Benishake Onigiri Package Benishake Onigiri Inside★ ★ ★ ★
Tsuna Mayo
Tuna mayo
Tuna Mayo Onigiri PackageTuna Mayo Inside★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Karashi Mentaiko
Spicy mustard walleye pollack roe
 Karashi Mentaiko Onigiri Package Karashi Mentaiko Onigiri Inside★ ★
Shiso Chirimen
Seaweed, dried anchovies and sesame seeds
 Shiso Chirimen Onigiri Package Shiso Chirimen Onigiri Inside
Hidaka Kombu
Dark seaweed
 Hidaka Konbu Onigiri PackageHidaka Konbu Onigiri Inside★ ★ ★ ★
Maaji Nozawana
Saurel with coleseed greens
 Nozawana Onigiri PackageNozawana Onigiri Inside★ ★ ★

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3 Responses to “The Onigiri Matrix”

  1. Hanlon Razor

    C’mon, you missed my favourite, just because my zeal in asking for it annoys the J-wife: okaka!

  2. Hanlon Razor

    C’mon, you missed my favourite, just because my zeal in asking for it annoys the J-wife: okaka!

  3. Great post! Very helpful. Shiso is a leaf not a seaweed, though!


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