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Onigilly report

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Onigilly, a food truck serving onigiri, the handheld Japanese seaweed-wrapped rice snack, is in downtown SF midday every weekday. With high hopes I tried it; I was disappointed.

At 11:45 they had already sold out of one of the four daily flavors. I tried marinated eggplant and miso (cooked, flaked) tuna. Each filling sits on a triangle of gummy brown rice, wrapped in a sheet of nori seaweed. The miso tuna had no miso taste, and both onigiri were undersalted. Because both fillings were moist, the seaweed got soggy quickly.

Onigiri in Japan are a ubiquitous delight. Every corner store (7-11, AM/PM, etc.) has a case of them, and they're cleverly wrapped so the nori does not touch the rice until you unwrap it and start eating, thus staying crisp. The fillings are entirely inside perfectly cooked white rice -- the moist filling never touches the seaweed, and white rice lets the fillings stand out much better than Onigilly's brown rice. Because onigiri are mostly starch, the filling tends to be very salty (and sometimes also very sweet), like salty roe, or sweet-soy shredded kelp (kombu tsukudani), or other intense fillings.

Onigilly does not do onigiri justice.

San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

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  1. Too bad. Four months later and Onigilly is still making a bad product. Your impressions are toe-to-toe with my own. Here's what I said in July.

    "After that super-rich and spicy bite, I wanted something with less oil and heat and turned to the Onigilly booth. The onigiri were on display and they’re assembled to order. Two for $5, I tried the hijiki (sea vegetables) and miso tuna. The hijiki blended with carrots was pleasant enough but sweetness was the dominant flavor rather than the natural brininess of the seaweed. The blah miso tuna had no detectable miso flavor and looked and tasted like a dab of the simple tuna salad that I used to pack for lunch in elementary school. The brown rice base was overcooked, broken and mushy, and the dried seaweed isn’t toasted. I’ll pass on Onigilly, not my idea of tasty onigiri."


    San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

    1. I'll second this. I had a similar experience many months ago at one of Japantown's many street fairs -- I guess they haven't improved.

      Onigiri with brown rice can work, it's just that Onigilly doesn't do a good job with theirs -- big shame as it puts a bad name on brown rice. I tried the tuna, and was not impressed either. I agree that there was no miso taste and thought the tuna on the outside of the rice (rather than inside) was strange. It somehow tasted "accidentally sweet." I also agree with Melanie that the rice was overcooked, broken, and mushy--AND too hard at the same time. For a much better version, try the brown rice hijiki onigiri at Super Mira.

      Super Mira
      1790 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA

      San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

      1. Terrible. Just DIY for a better product, at 10% of the cost.