Food & Drink | KONBINI WATCH

With convenience store onigiri, the devil's in the seasoning

by Patrick St. Michel

Contributing Writer

The humble onigiri rice ball doesn’t have a huge amount to say for itself. It’s sustenance, a step up from Calorie Mate but a snack all the same. This hasn’t stopped convenience stores from trying to turn the rice triangle into something more, and a few recent examples really shine.

FamilyMart has taken a seemingly obvious step to upping its game. Its latest creation features a thick piece of bacon wrapped around the rice. That’s the eye-grabbing part of it (¥158 after tax), but don’t sleep on the flavor beneath the meat: This onigiri features a great mix of soy sauce and pepper, adding a nice spice to each bite.

 

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Lawson, meanwhile, is tempting customers with its “devil’s onigiri.” This just-released item comes in two flavors. The first features bonito flakes and fried tempura batter (¥110 after tax). But the showstopper is a Sichuan-inspired onigiri loaded up with spices (¥140 after tax) that delivers a nice heat you wouldn’t expect from such a simple snack.