The difference between onigiri rice balls in Tokyo and Osaka

There’s a reason this convenience store staple tastes different in these parts.

The other day, a Japanese television program caused a stir on the Internet by commenting on the delicacies of Tuna Mayo Onigiri Rice Ball chain of convenience stores Family market.

People online said the reason the rice ball looked particularly delicious was probably because it was bought in Kansai (the area in and around Osaka). This sparked a whole discussion around rice balls from the three major convenience store chains, Family market, Lawson and 7 elevenand how they taste different in Kansai and Kantō (the area in and around Tokyo).

So… what makes them different?

Well, according to 7-Eleven, it’s all about the seaweed. To find out more, our reporter Egawa Tasuku decided to take a trip to Kyoto, one of Kansai’s biggest cities, and he made sure to pack a stash of 7-Eleven rice balls purchased from Tokyo for a comparative taste test. .

After stepping out of Kyoto Station and admiring the glow of Kyoto Tower at night, Tasuku made his way to his hotel, stopping at a nearby 7-Eleven to pick up some local rice balls.

▼ Ah, the understated beauty of a shelf of perfectly arranged onigiri…

Tasuku bought the same five varieties he had bought in Tokyo, and once he got to his hotel room for the night, he arranged them all under the unforgiving glare of the ceiling light.

He picked up a rice ball born in Kyoto in “Salmon flakesflavor, and that’s where something on the packaging caught his eye.

Looking closer, he saw it was true — that little red and white message read “seasoned seaweed“!

You don’t see this message on rice balls in the Kanto region, where onigiri are made with unseasoned seaweed. Tasuku usually eats his onigiri in Kanto, so he wasn’t sure what to expect with this seasoned seaweed version, but he eagerly unwrapped the piece and immediately noticed that…

▼ … the seaweed was actually sticky under his fingers.

Ignoring this for a moment, he took a bite of the rice dumpling and was delighted to find that his first bite turned out to be a surprisingly tasty experience. The compatibility between the grilled salmon and the seasoned seaweed was really good. Truly, really Well.

As for the rice balls, Tasuku felt that the Kansai one tasted more luxurious than those he usually eats at home. However, one little thing he couldn’t ignore was the stickiness of the seaweed, which meant he ate his next rice ball with some of the wrapper still in place.

Even then, he couldn’t escape the stickiness, as there was no real way to properly eat the onigiri without touching the surface of the seaweed. A wet wipe wasn’t even enough to wipe away the stickiness either, meaning if you were eating those rice balls outside, you’d want to make sure you had a few wet wipes with you.

Tasuku wondered if he should eat the remaining rice balls with a knife and fork, as that would be the only way to save his hands from the annoying sticky feeling. Instead, he decided to take a deep breath and go with the flow, allowing his hands to be sticky as he tried the rest, while trying his best to ignore the sticky feeling on his skin.

So how did they taste? Well, Tasuku was surprised that the compatibility between the seasoned seaweed and the filling has not always been excellent. Of all, the salmon flakes certainly tasted best with the seasoned seaweed, and the Shrimp mayonnaise too, but when it came to Tuna mayonnaiseTasuku felt it was a connection between the seasoned and unseasoned versions.

For the Spicy cod roehowever, Tasuku discovered that unseasoned seaweed was bestas the seasoned seaweed interfered with the flavor of the filling, which was already spicy and savory on its own.

As for the fermented salmon (bottom in the images below), Tasuku noticed that they weren’t seasoned, which means you can buy unseasoned seaweed in Kansai if that suits you more. However, this means that Tasuku couldn’t compare them this time, as he didn’t have the seasoned version.

So, to summarize the results, Tasuku felt that seasoned seaweed was great for some toppings and not so good with others, but in the end, he was ultimately undone by his inescapable grip. For Tasuku, the difference in flavor wasn’t great enough to explain the annoyance of having sticky fingers after eating, and he was grateful for the hassle-free style of eating offered by Tokyo’s non-sticky rice balls.

After looking online to find out why the rice balls were different in different regions, Tasuku discovered that 7-Eleven allegedly said it was all down to the different preferences in local tastes.

After another inspection at Kyoto Convenience stores the next day, Tasuku confirmed that seasoned seaweed rice balls weren’t just limited to the area’s 7-Elevens, but also Lawsons and Family Marts.

▼ The red and white labels on both say: “Seasoned Seaweed”.

So the next time you visit Kansai, be sure to stop by a convenience store and try their onigiri rice balls. It’s a great way to find out if your palate is more sensitive to Kansai tastes or Kanto tastes, and if you stop by this Family Mart in Kyoto, you can pair your rice balls with a glass of Japanese whiskey, for a truly unforgettable experience!

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to be up to date with the latest articles from SoraNews24 as soon as they are published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]

About Wendy Hall

Check Also

Japanese scholars provide e-learning materials to Ukrainian children

Japanese scholars have set up e-learning materials to help Ukrainian children continue their education. Many …