I talked about how rice balls or onigiri is getting popular in NYC, and they have some fancy rice balls for high price tags. At the Hanamizuki Café, the small fancy rice balls can cost you around $4 – $5 each (you can read about it here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/hanamizuki-cafe/). At Omusubi Gonbei inside Mitsuwa Market Place in NJ, you can get a bigger size rice balls at around $2 – $4 (you can read about it here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/mitsuwa-marketplace-2/), and at Benton Cafe, more simple and basic kinds of rice balls at $2 or less (you can read about it here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/benton-cafe/). In Japan, these are kind of crazy prices for rice balls. To prove this point, we went to Seven Eleven convenient stores. First of all, Seven Eleven stores in Japan are awesome, their coffee, which uses real coffee beans and grind them to order, is pretty amazing. The quality and variety of items sold are so different from the ones in the US.
We went to Seven Eleven on few occasions in early mornings for quick breakfast and snack. It happens that on the days we went, they had rice ball sales! All the rice ball, no matter what kind, was all 100 yen (about $1 each). Sweet! Here are all the rice balls we tried… First one is Shrimp Mayonnaise Rice Ball. It is exactly what it says, and has plump shrimp with mayonnaise sauce in the middle. It had a good amount of filling, with fresh rice and they have a special way to wrap the rice and seaweed. The seaweed and rice does not touch until you open up the plastic wrapper, so that the seaweed stays nice and crisp.
Then Chicken Soboro (or minced chicken) Rice Ball. Soboro is a common ingredients in Japanese food, it is basically a minced chicken that is flavored with soy sauce base seasoning. Simple yet tasty item to be eaten with a steamed whited rice.
It had some amount of soboro on top of the rice ball, but it also had them in the inside as a filling. It was again, a good amount of filling and quite tasty. The chicken bad a nice, strong flavor to it, which went really nicely against simple white rice.
My favorite of all, Salmon Ikura (salmon roe) Rice Ball! I was so happy to see this one! It is a round shape which is not traditional, but I don’t care what shape it is in, for as long as they are tasty. This rice ball is made with a salmon rice with ikura on top.
The rice is seasoned with dashi and soy sauce, and has bits of salmon mixed in it. The ikura was just spread on the top in the center, no extra filling in the middle. I wished if there were more ikura, but then the rice ball would be more expensive. It is usually sold at 150 yen, but again, we got all the rice balls on the sale at 100 yen each. Awesome!
And let’s not forget the very basic kind, Ume (plum) Rice Ball. It is a special kind of plum, and they are chopped, without the pit. It is a good, solid, traditional rice ball. Good amount of salty flavor, and a good amount of chopped plum in it.
Another one of my favorite is a Spicy Mentaiko rice ball. This one didn’t have as much filling as I wanted… I wanted about twice as much! It was still tasty, and for the price of around $1, I guess it was alright.
Then we tried some unique, round-shaped, not-so-traditional kinds of rice balls. First up is Jambalaya Rice Ball. I know! How cool is that?
It had a thin slice of sausage on the top, along side one shiny corn. The rice is mixed with pieces of sausage, corn, and spicy seasoning with a real good kick to it. Very flavorful and tasty. Interesting as a rice ball, but definitely works. If you want a rice ball with a big punch, this is it.
Next one was Gomoku Chirashi Rice Ball, which is a sushi rice ball. Very colorful one. Gomoku Chirashi is made of sushi rice with a variety of vegetables mixed in, and topped with strings of cooked eggs and other ingredients. This rice ball had egg and imitation crab on the top.
The sushi rice had nice vinegar and sugar flavor, but not much veggie or other ingredients mixed in it. With the amount of egg and imitation crab topping, it still came out to be a good rice ball.
Then there is Char-Siu Chahan Rice Ball. Chahan is a Japanese fried rice dish, prepared with rice, egg, and other ingredients, and usually has soy sauce based seasonings. This rice ball had seasoned rice, egg, and pieces of char-siu pork.
The little bits of yellow in the rice you see is the egg, not corn. It was tasty but wanted more pieces pf pork char-siu… It is a creative rice ball though, but can get messy if you don’t keep the plastic wrapper on it while you eat. Otherwise, they will either fall apart or get your hands all greasy.
The last round-shape rice ball we tried was a Sausage Rice Ball. It is very similar to the Spam rice balls that I’ve had in the US, but made with a thick slab of sausage.
It is sort of smoked sausage, drizzled and cuddled in sweet tangy sauce, and place on top of rice. It was quite tasty, filling and satisfying. It was kind of hard to eat, but since the meat was not too firm, but the right firm/soft-ness, it was ok.
The last but not least, going back to the traditional triangle shape. Charcoal Grilled BBQ Beef Rice Ball. It is a mouthful, and it was very tasty in my mouth. It had a good amount of beef in the middle, sweet with a little kick to it.
So, here are all the rice balls we tried from Seven Eleven convenient stores in Japan. All 100 yen each with the sales that they had going on, thank you! It is so great that you can get really good, solid, tasty, and high quality rice balls at such cheap price in Japan. Since Seven Eleven stores are everywhere, you can get these rice balls anywhere and everywhere. If you are in Japan and want a quick and affordable snack, give them a try!
Seven Eleven – everywhere in Japan!