Otsuka isn’t exactly the most famous neighborhood in Tokyo. Located next to bustling Ikebukuro, it’s a quiet area and most people assume there’s not much to do. Whether or not that’s actually true, one of our Japanese writers found himself getting off the train at Otsuka Station the other day with a singular purpose in mind: He was there to eat onigiri (rice balls).

But should you hop on a train to Otsuka just for some food you can buy at a convenience store? Is this onigiri restaurant really worth a trip to this quiet neighborhood? Read on to find out!


Our writer Takashi headed to Otsuka on Saturday morning in order to try the food at a place called Bongo, which is apparently famous for its onigiri. Bongo is so well-known that when he arrived at 11:20, ten minutes before the restaurant opens, there was already a line outside! Within fifteen minutes of opening, all the seats were full — something that would make any restaurateur happy.


But a greater surprise was waiting for Takashi inside where he discovered that the onigiri restaurant had a lot in common with sushi joints. For one thing, there was a large L-shaped counter and for another, there was a range of items arrayed in a glass case, waiting to be stuffed in onigiri. And behind the case stood the chef, preparing food for customers.


As it was Saturday, Takashi decided to try the special Saturday set, which is limited to only 80 customers per day and comes with a choice of two onigiri. Takashi went with the popular salmon and mentaiko (spicy cod roe) with mayonnaise.


▼ The set also comes with salad, a boiled egg, and tofu soup.


So, how was the onigiri? “Though onigiri has a really standard image,” Takashi says, “this was just the opposite!” It was light and delicious in a way that gave him a new respect for how great onigiri can be.


Apparently part of what made this onigiri so great was the rice, which Bongo proudly advertises as being from Niigata Prefecture right on their restaurant sign. Takashi told us that the only thing he could say was that it was simply amazing!


So, should you take the time to stop by Otsuka just for some onigiri? Takashi says, yes, absolutely. Of course, some might balk at the cost — one rice ball costs 250 yen (US$2). That’s a good 100 yen more than what you’d probably pay at the convenience store, for example, but, Takashi argues that for the value you’re getting, 250 yen is cheap.

So, if you’ve never been to Otsuka, now you have a great reason to go!

Restaurant Information
Bongo / ぼんご
Address: Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Kita Otsuka 2-26-3
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-midnight
Closed Sunday
Telephone: 3910-5617

All images ©RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]