Onigiri - A Handy Snack
Throw one in your bag. Keep one in your pocket. Squeeze one in your mouth. These convenient, tasty little morsels are one of the most popular snacks in Japan.
Onigiri are much more than a humble rice ball. They are fuel-packed, tastebud-tantalising, affordable meals you can munch in one glove covered hand. There's no need to feel like a foreigner grabbing onigiri from convenience stores either, as they actually date back to over 2000 years of Japanese fare! Arguably one of Niseko's best on the go snacks, we sample a selection of onigiri flavours and give you the down-low below.
Pro-tip: to keep the nori in perfect shape around your onigiri, follow the numbered steps on the wrapping!
Description: The first in our list is the big, bold, Premium Salmon Onigiri from Lawson.
Conor: A strong start. Easily my favourite and my go-to onigiri. This premium range from Lawson offers up some real chunky fish pieces at a decent price. Tasty and filling. Its a 5 from me. 5/5
Evan: Ooh yep this one is good. A nice thick piece of salmon that would work on its own complements the rice and seaweed for a salty and delicious snack. Feels healthy too. It's probably not. 4.5/5
How much and where: ¥198 from Lawson
Beef Short Ribs (牛カルビ)
Description: Next up is for our carnivores, the Beef Short Ribs from 7Eleven.
Conor: This was tasty. The salty meat filling works well in tandem with the rice. You may want to go back for seconds or thirds with this one. Who knows if it's really beef tho? 4/5
Evan: My favourite. Thick and chunky beef pieces in a delicious BBQ marinade makes for a moist and flavoursome mouthful. 5/5
How much and where: ¥145 from 7Eleven
Tuna Mayonnaise (ツナマヨ)
Description: A classic flavour pairing, chicken of the sea and some creamy mayo.
Conor: The Tsunamayo is a favourite among many around the village. It is filling, creamy and salty. Exactly what you are looking for in a quick snack as you head up the mountain. Taste doesn't quite stand up to some others on this list. 3/5
Evan: This is a classic onigiri. The original? Yes. The best? Hmmm, not quite. The tuna is a little dry, salvaged somewhat by the not-quite-mayo-not-quite-tartare-not-quite-thousand-island sauce. I like it, I just don't love it. 3.5/5
How much and where: ¥124 from 7Eleven
Salmon Roe (いくら)
Description: A Seicomart staple, the Salmon Roe Onigiri.
Conor: Short on filling and short on flavour. This one is a no from me. Ikura really shines after marinating in soy sauce and adding to rice. So put in a little extra effort and make this one yourself. 1/5
Evan: This is a no from me. I usually like salmon roe but the ratios are just way off. Being a premium, expensive filling, I feel they've skimped on the quantity to keep the price competitive. It's just a ball of rice with a couple of bubbles in it! 1/5
How much and where: ¥129 from Seicomart
Vegetarian ( ベジタリアン )
Description: We haven't forgotten our vegetarians. The non-meat onigiri offering is certainly reasonable! From fruits to vegetables (on land and sea varieties) and flavourings in between there are options for every palette.
Sea Kelp (こんぶ)
Sanjana: Interesting texture but a pleasant surprise. The teriyaki-like sauce provides a welcome burst of flavour which compliments the salty kelp and sesame seeds. This will be my vegetarian go-to option! 5/5
Conor: This was the surprise package of the group. It's not exactly appealing in name or appearance but with a hint of soy and sugar this was a great mouthful. 3.5/5
Evan: I'm nervous about this. What even is sea kelp? Is it a dog? No, that's a kelpie. Anyway, this tastes like dog food. Stick to what you know, gaijin, stick to what you know. 2/5
How much and where: ¥108 from Seicomart
Pickled Plum (うめぼし)
Sanjana: A sweet and sour experience. It's an acquired taste with the tartness of the pickle but one which I could easily eat again. Would be a good option when craving a healthy dessert snack. 4/5
Conor: Not particularly memorable. Usually omeboshi is quite tart and sour however this rendition was more subtle with a little bit of sweetness. Being a very traditional Japanese flavour this one might not appeal to most gaijin. 2/5
Evan: Hmmm, this is more your 'dessert-style' onigiri, if such a thing can exist. Sweet and inoffensive, both distinctly Japanese characteristics. Probably not the onigiri I'd go for if just picking up one, but a nice complement to a larger conbini meal. 3/5
How much and where: ¥124 from 7Eleven
Tempura Batter and Green Seaweed (天かす)
Sanjana: The cute Tanuki Bear packaging and tempura taste promise had me salivating in anticipation! Unfortunately it turned out to be a bit bland and lacked the satisfaction of a centre filling. 3/5
Conor: This sounds good but lacks any real punch. The flavour is interesting but with no real tempura crunch you are left a little short after finishing this one. 3/5
Evan: This is right up my alley on paper. Big tempura fan. But it's not what I was hoping for. No crunch as I'd hoped, rather a single-textured, soggy rice ball with only a subtle tempura flavouring. Perhaps better if dipped in soy sauce? 3/5
How much and where: ¥110 from Lawson