The humble onigiri rice ball is the traditional Japanese answer to the sub sandwich: it’s a no-frills, on-the-go snack that balances carbs and protein and doesn’t require utensils. And just like subs, onigiri come stuffed with a huge variety of fillings, from salmon flakes to meatballs, seaweed to shrimp tempura.

And, just as “healthy” American sub sandwich chain Subway is making huge headway in Japan recently, onigiri are apparently making the journey the opposite way to American shores… But something has definitely gotten lost in translation.

Koro Koro Rice Ball Cafe, based in New Jersey, is currently hosting a modest Kickstarter campaign to raise US$5,000 in capital to get the restaurant started. The operators actually require around $20,000 to officially open the store, but we presume they’ll be selling the family car and possibly a kidney or two to scrounge the rest.


Of course, in Japan, people are used to certain types of filling in their onigiri. There are the aforementioned fish flakes, the ever-popular umeboshi Japanese plum, tuna mayonnaise (arguably the most popular, if least traditional), and a handful of other staples. Koro Koro, on the other hand, is taking a decidedly more global approach to their fillings; The only “real” Japanese filling they’ll apparently be featuring is umeboshi. The rest are inspired by a huge variety of global tastes, with original fillings including mixes of Indian, Mediterranean, Cuban and other South American ingredients.

So, Koro Koro’s take on the staple Japanese snack food may not be the most authentic, but onigiri are undoubtedly delicious, convenient, and pretty good for you to boot, so it’s nice to see the idea finally crossing over to other regions. Koro Koro’s Kickstarter campaign, at the time of this writing, has less than a thousand bucks to go, so if you’d like to contribute even a small amount to see them over the finish line, you can do so here.


Source: Entabe
Photos: itsjerseycity.com, Kickstarter, Koro Koro Cafe