I’ve had mixed experiences with the rice ball snacks from Onigilly, a food truck parsing out a traditional Japanese snack made with rice and seaweed. The creative fillings were always interesting, but sometimes the rice ball fell apart in my hands because it was too dry.
But when the rice is made fresh and served quickly, Onigilly successfully shines like it does in its new home on Kearny Street in San Francisco.
Serving the weekday lunch crowd, Onigilly has come up with a great way to make their gourmet rice balls a satisfying meal at their new restaurant. When I was off last week and in the city looking for lunch, I wondered how satisfying a lunch of rice balls could be.
But Onigilly’s “lunch set” allows you to create your lunch by choosing the traditional format of rice balls (in a triangular shape) with the choice of three flavors, or creating a rice bowl or tofu noodle bowl. Then you choose from an assortment of flavors (as many as three toppings) for a price of $8.25.
I decided to get a rice bowl, and selected toppings of miso tuna salad, hijiki (soy braised seaweed strings with shredded carrots) and the special of the day, pork belly.
My beautiful and colorful rice bowl was rounded out with edamame (the soy pods), pickles and a green salad.
The tuna was good, although it didn’t have a strong miso flavor, and the pork belly was a bit on the dry side and wasn’t too fatty. Overall, though, I enjoyed the fun of creating my own bowl and enjoying the mix of flavors in one sitting.
Onigilly’s spot is small, with only a few tables inside (a second floor is still under construction) and a couple outside. Most people who formed a line out the door were taking their lunches back to the office.
Onigilly has always been a crowd pleaser with its truck at street food events, but I like the substantial options here in its restaurant. I just wish it’s open on weekends so that this lunch option isn’t just for the work week.
Onigilly, 343 Kearny St. (near Pine), San Francisco. PH: 415.671.4706. Open Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. onigilly.com
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