Food - Drink
The Top-Tier Onigiri That Justifies A 3-Hour Wait In Japan
BY DEBORAH MARTIN
Some foods are all about humble simplicity, such as Japan's onigiri rice balls, which are often made at home from leftover rice rolled around savory fillings, then stuffed into lunch boxes. However, there are whole restaurants devoted to these unassuming rice balls, and one has customers happily lining up for hours of waiting.
In Tokyo, long queues routinely build up outside of Onigiri Bongo, a 60-year-old restaurant where customers may wait for three to five hours. This modest nine-seater spot is overseen by Onigiri Master Yumiko Ukon and features 55 types of generously-sized onigiri, like fried chicken and pork kimchi, plus miso soup, tea, and pickles.
Yumiko Ukon's considerable skills have been honed over 35 years and 17 million onigiris. She has perfected her craft, whipping up each ball in seconds and squeezing them with just the right amount of pressure so that the rice stays fluffy, the onigiri holds together, and the whole thing crumbles beautifully in your mouth.