- Mari Hiroki
Get Them While You Can! Lawson’s Newest and Most Popular Onigiri
Onigiri (rice ball) is a soul food that is fundamental to Japan's food culture. Today, there is a wide variety of onigiri available in convenience stores, and many of them attract a great deal of attention. This article focuses on the recommended onigiri at the convenience store chain, Lawson, which is known for its diverse array of onigiri.
Lawson is a chain of convenience stores that can be found all over Japan. You may have noticed its store sign on your travels, a white milk can on a blue background. Lawson started as a dairy milk store in the US and opened its first outlet in Japan in 1975 as a convenience store that sells daily necessities. So in a way, the trademark milk represents it origins. Lawson now has roughly 15,000 shops around Japan and has become indispensable to the daily lives of Japanese people.
1. Nyankomeshi Cheese
Nyankomeshi Cheese is in a package with a cute design that represents a kitty cat ("nyanko" in Japanese) seen from the back. "Nyankomeshi" refers to traditional cat food in Japan—not onigiri but rice mixed with simple ingredients such as bonito flakes or left over fish or miso soup. Though traditionally served to pets, nyankomeshi is a popular dish for human consumption due to the wonderful flavors achieved by mixing rice with bonito flakes and other ingredients. Nyankomeshi Cheese is made of rice with sesame seeds mixed in and a cheesy center. It is covered with bonito flakes.
It can be eaten as is, but becomes even better when warmed up in the microwave so that the cheese melts. The flavors of the melted cheese and bonito flakes are really fantastic, so be sure to warm it up!
Price: 145 JPY (incl. tax)
2. Kinshari Onigiri—Mackerel Grilled & Marinated with Miso
The Kinshari Onigiri Series ("kin" is gold and "shari" is cooked white rice) was developed with special attention paid to the rice. The Kinshari Onigiri—Mackerel Grilled & Marinated with Miso that was introduced this fall is an onigiri packed with Kinka mackerel. Kinka mackerel is a brand of large, fatty mackerel caught off the coast of Mt. Kinka around Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture and is so valuable it is sometimes referred to as "the phantom mackerel".
Enjoy the wonderful aroma and flavors of Kinka mackerel that has been marinated in miso and shiokoji (salt rice malt) and grilled.
Price: 198 JPY (incl. tax)
3. Akuma no Onigiri
No list of Lawson's recommended onigiri is complete without Akuma no Onigiri (The Devil's Onigiri).
It is an onigiri made with rice mixed with tenkasu (the deep fried batter that is left over from making tempura), tempura sauce, aonori seaweed and sea lettuce. The flavors that are created by the tenkasu that has been mixed with tempura sauce is so wonderful, you'll be hooked on the first bite. It really is a devilish onigiri for those concerned about calories and weight.
It has been a year since it was released, and a limited number of a special anniversary version with added ingredients and flavors is on sale. Be sure to give it a try!
Guide price: 110 JPY (incl. tax)
4. Nitamago Onigiri—Created with the Supervision of Menya Itto
Nitamago Onigiri—Created with the Supervision of Menya Itto is one of the products developed collaboratively with the popular ramen shop, Menya Itto. Rice cooked in a soup made with chicken patian (soup broth), pork paitan and seafood stock comes with a nitamago (seasoned soft boiled egg) and the shrimp spicy miso sauce that is popular in the shop on top. It is truly the onigiri version of a popular ramen dish. There are other products, such a mini ramen, created collaboratively with Menya Itto, so try them as well.
Guide price: 180 JPY (incl. tax)
*Sold only at Lawson shops in the Kanto area
5. Toyama Black Ramen Onigiri
Toyama Black Ramen Onigiri, which was introduced as a part of the Gotochimon Nigiri series of regional gourmet dishes and ingredients made into onigiri, is also recommended. It is based on "black ramen", a regional gourmet dish of Toyama Prefecture, and looks as black as the name suggests! That the color was achieved by mixing in bamboo charcoal is a testament to Lawson's commitment creating a product that is highly evocative of the original dish. The rice that has been cooked in a broth taken from chicken bones is mixed with roast pork, menma (condiment made from lactate-fermented bamboo shoots) and scallions and flavored with just the right amount of black pepper. It is a supremely satisfying onigiri.
Guide price: 140 JPY (incl. tax)
These were the recommended onigiri available at Lawson across the country. If any of them caught your eye, go to the store and check them out!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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