Sushitozzo is causing a buzz on the Internet, but will it do the same for our taste buds?

If we were to look back at Japanese sweets trends over the past year, we would have to say that 2021 has definitely been the year of the maritozzo. The classic Italian sweet pastry, traditionally packed with a mound of whipped cream, has been popular in Rome for centuries, but this year it made its way over to Japan, where it evolved to include cute shapes like cats and frogs.

Now the evolution of the maritozzo has taken a step in a new direction, with the introduction of the sushitozzo. As the name suggests, this is a fishy new take on the sweet, and given the craze for maritozzo on social media at the moment, the sushitozzo has also caused quite a stir online.

The new snack is the brainchild of sushi chain Koichian, which has a branch at Tokyu Food Show Shibuya, so we went to pick up a few for the office. When we arrived, we found that the sushitozzo was available in one variety — tuna, which is always one of the top sushi choices.

▼ Koichian is usually known for its freshly made sushi rolls and rice balls.

The Sushitozzo really do catch the eye, as they have the same distinctive shape as the Italian sweet.

However, instead of pastry, the sushitozzo is wrapped up in a layer of rice, which is covered in a sheet of black nori seaweed.

We breathed a sigh of relief to find that there was no cream filling here, as the morsel was packed with two kinds of tuna. Negitoro, the fatty meat from around the bones and skin, jutted out of the middle while behind it, there was a darker tuna with a coarser grain.

▼ Behind all the tuna was a small serving of takuan, crunchy pickled daikon radish.

Biting into this made our eyebrows dart up in surprise, as there was an unexpected tingle on the taste buds. Taking a look at the ingredients on the official site, we found that wasabi had been incorporated into the vinegared rice, which helped to amp up the wow factor.

▼ The sushitozzo also contains finely sliced green onions, and the darker tuna is pickled with sesame and soy dashi for even more flavour.

Priced at 389 yen (US$3.55) each, this was a truly fantastic meal, full of flavour and different textures to excite the palate and open our eyes to a new way of enjoying sushi. It was a lot more fun than biting into a rice ball or sushi roll, and it reminded us of the epic sandwich-like jumbo onigiri that are such a hit in Okinawa.

Like those epic rice balls, the sushitozzo looks set to become a soul-food favourite with customers, especially now that Koichian has expanded sales of the unusual sushi from three stores to 41 stores. That means sushi lovers in Kanagawa, Osaka and the Kanto region can now get a taste of the sushitozzo as well!

Although if you want a taste of fish with actual cream, you’ll have to do that in Tokyo or Shiga, where ice cream made with fermented fish is considered a true specialty.

Featured image: Koichian
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