How To Unwrap a Japanese Rice Ball


Got this email last week from Lunch’er Andrew: “Had a great lunch at Zaiya today [on 41st btw. Mad+5th], though I had to go online for a tutorial on how to open those damn plastic wraps!”  Wait a second… there are online tutorials for how to open those shrink wrapped triangular rice balls? “But of course there are!!”

The onigiri mystery unlocked on video for confused westerners, after the jump.

Rice balls are available at most Japanese take out spots in Midtown, including Cafe Zaiya, Chiyoda Sushi, Yagura, Sushi Tei, Washoku Cafe, Teriyaki Boy, Oms/b, Shinbashi 49 and Dainobu.


  • Really? Did you need a tutorial on unlocking the mystery of tacos too?

  • Unless you are a marathon runner, one shouldn’t consume too many of these. O_O it’s always the carb..sighh…

  • yes really! these things are hard to unwrap without destroying them. thanks to andrew for asking. i’m inspired to hit oms/b with my groupon for dinner tonight.

  • yeah I like how both of those tutorials leave out the most important part (as seen particularly in the last one: after you pull and the wrapper comes undone you have to fix the seaweed all back against the rice and re attach any parts that ripped. but YUM

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    Properly vendor-sold onigiri separates the rice from the seaweed, so you have to wrap it yourself… just a note that these are not always packaged the same way.

  • Andrew, just for you I’m gonna post an online video showing how to use one of those pesky paper-wrapped straws. Followed by a video showing how to get napkins out of the dispenser. Just for you. (In the old days, Darwinism would have prevailed and you would have died of starvation before you could reproduce, thus contributing to an increase in the average intelligence of the species.)

  • THe key to the Zaiya onigiri is to remove the scotch tape before unwrapping. Once you get rid of that, its pretty easy to wrap.

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    I ditto ESNY on the scotch tape tip. Most onigiri have instructions on the side that are pretty clearly illustrated. That said, when I first had one on an Asiana flight, I didn’t spot the diagrams until after i had seaweed shrapnel all around me. They’re great quick snacks, remind me of Seoul delis.

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