Rice balls, called onigiri or omusubi in Japanese, are a quintessential staple of Japanese lunches for people of any age. Convenience store shelves are always stocked full of many different varieties, and there are even specialty shops that sell nothing but rice balls for take-away. They can be as simple as rice flavored lightly with salt, but are more commonly found with some sort of filling like konbu (kelp with a salty-sweet soy sauce flavoring) or salmon, and wrapped with a sheet of nori seaweed.

Convenience store chain FamilyMart recently released what they call a “sando omusubi“, or a sandwich rice ball, though it doesn’t quite seem to make it to the rice-ball level…

FamilyMart began the sale of their sando omusubi on April 7, and are available in all stores nationwide, aside from Hokkaido, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, and Okinawa prefectures. (Sorry guys!)

My interest piqued, I decided to stop by one of the half-dozen FamilyMarts I passed by on my way home, and picked up the tuna cheese flavor for 198 yen (US$1.65). Your standard onigiri would cost around 110 yen, for comparison.

DSC_0425Photo: © RocketNews24

DSC_0429Photo: © RocketNews24

 Normally, the rice and seaweed are separated by the plastic to keep the seaweed nice and crunchy until you’re ready to eat it, though the packaging can be kind of tricky to open nicely at times. This one’s packaging wasn’t exactly no-fuss either (why the unnecessary tape?!), but this one didn’t have the extra bonus of crispy nori. Let’s take a look at the filling now…

DSC_0427Photo: © RocketNews24

It wasn’t even in the traditional triangle or round shape that most rice balls are made in. It’s like… someone tried to make a sushi roll, but wasn’t quite sure how to go about the rolling part, so they just folded it in half.

DSC_0428Photo: © RocketNews24

Mmm, gooey processed cheese and globs of mayo-ey tuna goodness; the stuff conbini-food dreams are made of.

As for the taste? It wasn’t anything spectacular. If you’ve ever tried a tuna-mayo onigiri, it’s essentially the same, just throw in a slice of cheese. For those of you that haven’t tried one, try to imagine a cold tuna melt sandwich, but on rice instead of bread.

Final verdict? It’s worth a try if you like trying new things, but it’s honestly nothing to write home about.

One Japanese snacker shared their thoughts of this sandwich-rice ball hybrid:

▲”I don’t understand why this is being called a musubi. Why not just call it a rice sandwich already?”

Many Japanese probably share the same sentiment, but I’m sure some sandwich purists out there would disagree.

FamilyMart also has a bacon and egg sandwich musubi for 210 yen (US$1.75).

oniggeryPhoto: livedoor NEWS

Anyone care to give this one a try?

Source: livedoor NEWS via Hachima Kikou