Onigiri (rice balls) have become a go-to option for a quick and satisfying lunch, attracting not only Japanese businesspeople but also tourists. While you can easily find onigiri everywhere, have you ever experienced the delights of a specialty shop? I, Marei (editor-in-chief), am excited to introduce you to a healthy Japanese trend: “multigrain onigiri” – a nutritious twist on the traditional white rice version. Join me on this culinary journey as we explore where to find these delicious and healthy onigiri creations in Tokyo!
What are multigrain onigiri?
Unlike the usual white rice type, multigrain onigiri are made with a combination of grains, such as millet, brown rice, glutinous barley, and quinoa, which adds both flavor and nutritional value. This healthy alternative is gaining popularity due to its rich mineral content and satisfying qualities. (By the way, onigiri are also known as “omusubi” – both terms refer to the same thing.)
In this article, we’ll focus on two specialty rice ball stores that take pride in their ingredients and seasonings.
Jukkokuwacho: Onigiri in the park
Jukkokuwacho is a multigrain onigiri specialty store that attracts long lines of customers. Their signature multigrain rice, also called “jukokumai (ten-grain rice),” is a unique blend of ten grains, including Nagano Prefecture’s Milky Queen rice, revived Japanese ancient rice, quinoa, and more.
Most onigiri at Jukkokuwacho are reasonably priced between 200-250 yen. They also offer vegetarian options, as well as side dishes such as pork miso soup (= tonjiru) and salad. If you make a special request, they will freshly prepare items not displayed in the product case, except during peak lunch hours. We highly recommend trying their daily lunch set priced at 550 yen, which includes two rice balls, fried chicken, an omelet, one steamed dumpling, pickles, and a tiny dessert.
After trying Jukkokuwacho’s lunch set at a nearby park, I understood why the shop is so popular. The onigiri are not only visually appealing with their neatly arranged ingredients but also bursting with flavors. At first glimpse, it looks as if the ingredients are merely placed on top. But there’s actually a generous amount stuffed inside each rice ball. The fragrant ten-grain rice perfectly complements the fillings, creating a harmonious blend. Additionally, the side dishes that come with the lunch set are equally fun and delicious. The friendly and helpful staff make the dining experience even more enjoyable. I will be back for sure!
Opening hours: 10:45-15:00
Closed: Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
Address: 2-2-6 Naito Building 1F, Kandanishikicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/uQ54PX8vz8ut6JG7A
Nearest stations: Ogawamachi Station, Shin-Ochanomizu Station, Awajicho Station, Ochanomizu Station, Jimbocho Station
maimai: A shop specializing in multigrain onigiri with unique flavors
“maimai” is a specialty store located in Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan, a place known for housing antenna shops from all over Japan (= stores that sell all kinds of products from one prefecture). After exploring the antenna shops, make sure to visit maimai’s eat-in space to satisfy your hunger. They offer both dine-in and takeout options.
maimai specializes in multigrain rice balls made from a unique blend of nine types of grain, including Koshihikari rice from Niigata Prefecture, rolled barley, and corn. They also sell packs of multigrain rice for those who want to enjoy their rice at home. Unlike other shops, maimai’s staff prepares the rice balls after receiving an order, ensuring freshness and quality. As it’s an eat-in place, you have to try the set meal recommended by the owner!
During my visit, I opted for the set with “2 multigrain rice balls of your choice”, several side dishes, and miso soup. The menu has various spicy rice ball options, so I decided to try the “yamawasabi (horseradish)” flavor. With each bite, I experienced a punch of spiciness. Wow!! If you enjoy spicy food, I highly recommend trying one of the hot and spicy “pirikara onigiri” lineups – with unique flavors exclusive to Maimai. On the other hand, the “Tuna Mayo Green Pepper” combination offered a creamy and satisfying taste. Accompanied by a side dish and hot miso soup, it made for a healthy and filling meal.
Conveniently located near the station, maimai inside Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan is easily accessible. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor their special grain rice balls!
maimai Multigrain Onigiri Specialty Shop – Yurakucho Store
(Zakkoku Onigiri Senmonten maimai)
Business hours: 11:00-18:00 (Monday-Friday) *Please check Instagram for details.
Address: Tokyo Traffic Hall B1F, 2-10-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/wYtZ9tWTS4BdRCsg9
Nearest stations: Yurakucho Station, Ginza Station
*Prices are accurate as of July 2023.