Last week, I had the opportunity to try the fourth vendor at Smorgasburg at Whole Foods‘ Bowery location – and I was SUPER excited about this one because it featured one of my favorite snack foods – onigiri, or Japanese rice ball! Growing up, my mom would use this special rice-shaper mold to make onigiri for me (even though we are Chinese and not Japanese), and each would have a little surprise stuffing inside such as tuna, seaweed, or chicken. When I visited Tokyo this past year, I had at least one onigiri a day. I may or may not have bought my own mold/stamp set to make panda-shaped onigiri. This love is real, people. So I was really curious to see what this month’s vendor, Rice & Miso Everyday, had to offer!
The first thing I noticed was that the menu offered onigiri of both the grilled and traditional variety:
SO many to choose from – the rice balls: I want them all! Alas, I did have work to do that afternoon, and a self-induced carb coma didn’t seem like the best idea. I decided to go with the the bento box, which as you can see here, features 2 rice balls of my choosing, hijiki (a type of seaweed) salad, green vegetables with sweet sesame sauce, and Whole Foods Market fish, meat of the day or tofu steak:
My eating buddy and I decided to walk on the wild side and added the miso soup – we’re crazy kids, I tell ya!
So my eating buddy and I actually checked out Rice & Miso Everyday on the day of that crazy blizzard, so we gladly welcomed the steaming and flavorful miso soup. Rice & Miso Everyday‘s version had an extra ingredient that I had never seen in soup before but was perfect – soft potato! This added an extra layer of heartiness and was perfect for a chilly day.
My eating buddy, who also ordered the bento box, selected the RAM Original (garlic & miso) rice ball and also sprang for a grilled one – the soy sauce and bonito flake. Chicken was the selection of choice for the meat:
The grilled rice ball obviously offered a different texture, with a crunchy flavorful exterior. I also sampled the chicken (yay for sharing!) and found it extremely juicy and flavorful – always impressive for white meat (and I’m definitely a dark meat chicken person). Yum!
For my bento box (first picture), I ordered the Basic (black sesame and sea salt) onigiri and the Hijiki (black seaweed) onigiri. I also went with the tofu steak – though I am far from a vegetarian as you well know by now, I do love a well-prepared tofu. The Basic was simple yet satisfying, with the texture and flavor of the sesame and salt adding an extra dimension while not overpowering the well-seasoned rice. The tofu steak was scrumptious! The tofu was firm but not tough, and the sauce added a sweet and tangy finish. Delish.
Eating buddy and I ate at the counter, in true sushi-bar/izakaya style, where we were able to chat with the friendly Rice & Miso Everyday peeps and watch them hard at work. I especially favored that red beanie – I wonder if I can find one that fits my oversized head (uh, that’s literal, not figurative. I hope).
Rice & Miso Everyday is the featured Smorgasburg vendor at Whole Foods‘ Bowery location until March 5th, so go check out their onigiri, bento and miso soup before they’re gone! I think I will be paying a return visit very soon
Note: Meal provided by Whole Foods Market; opinions are my own.
Have you had onigiri before? Did you like it?