Tokyoites can now enjoy this favorite pre-flight meal of travelers without getting on a plane.

As much as he likes living in Tokyo, our Japanese-language reporter Kouhey often finds himself thinking back fondly to the trip he took to Okinawa last year. Lovely as they may be, though, it’s not the beautiful beaches and tropical climate that recently has him longing to return to Okinawa, but his memories of the delicious local food, especially the Pork Tamago Onigiri from the chain of the same name.

▼ The Pork Tamago Onigiri alters the standard onigiri (rice ball concept) into a folded semi-sandwich shape stuffed with a slice of tamagoyaki (Japanese-style omelet) and Spam-like pork luncheon meat.

▼ The Pork Tamago Onigiri branch in Naha Airport, Okinawa’s main air travel hub, always has a line of customers stretching from the shop either looking to try one ASAP upon arrival or to enjoy one more before heading home.

Unfortunately, Pork Tamago Onigiri, also known as “Potama,” has only five branches in Okinawa, two in Fukuoka, and one in Hawaii, leaving Tokyoites like Kouhey out of luck when the craving hits. Or at least that was the situation until September 17, when Pork Tamago Onigiri opened its first-ever Tokyo shop, located inside the Tokyo Midtown Yaesu complex near Tokyo Station!

Kouhey, naturally, went on opening day, arriving about 40 minutes after the store’s 10 a.m. opening to find there was already a line of customers snaking back and forth from the order counter. Staff members were handing out menus to those in line, which was a smart idea because there are actually several options to choose from, including one that’s exclusive to the new Tokyo branch.

As he got closer to the front of the line, Kouhey got to see the staff assembling the onigiri in the open-layout kitchen. It all looked great, but what got his mouth watering more than anything else was the sight of the freshly made tamagoyaki.

Since it had been a year since his last Pork Tamago Onigiri fix, Kouhey decided to try three different onigiri, and added an Okinawan style drink to wash it all down. The Tokyo branch doesn’t have any eat-in space and all orders are to-go, but Kouhey wasn’t about to wait until he got home to start digging in, so he made his way to Tokyo Midtown Yaesu’s public-space terrace, found an open bench, and got to taste-testing.

He started with the standard 390-yen (US$2.80) Pork Tamago Onigiri, and when he unwrapped it…

…it looked just like it did in Okinawa! Even better, the flavor was exactly as he’d remembered it too, with the saltiness of the pork mixing with the sweetness of the tamagoyaki to produce a rush of giddiness as it hit his taste buds.

Up next, the Deep-fried Tofu and Miso.

At 650 yen, this one is part of the menu’s more expensive “Special” class, but it was worth it. The tofu here is called shimadofu, a regional Okinawan style with a firm outer layer that made for a satisfyingly substantial texture, and the rich miso made for an excellent combination with the daikon radish sprouts.

Feeling thirsty, Kouhey reached for his cup of Shikuwasa Jasmine Tea (300 yen as part of an onigiri combo). Shikuwasa is a type of citrus fruit grown in Okinawa, and the juice is great as both a food seasoning and a drink ingredient, with an invigoratingly tart taste.

Thirst quenched, it was now time for the Shrimp and Scallop Kakiage.

At 800 yen, this is the most expensive item on the menu, and exclusive to Pork Tamago Onigiri’s Tokyo Midtown Yaesu branch.

That extra outlay, though, gets you a kakiage, or tempura cluster, and the seafood is juicy and delicious, with the shrimp having just the right amount of firmness for a flavorful pop as you bite into them, plus a quick spicy quick from the shishito pepper.

Because of the crowd, it had taken Kouhey about 30 minutes from when he got in line until he got his food. Granted, it was opening day, and a Saturday to boot, but given the proximity to Tokyo Station, you can probably expect a pretty long line whenever you go.

But on the other hand, waiting 30 minutes in line is still a lot easier to do than taking a plane all the way to Okinawa, so we’re happy to have a Potama branch in our town, even if it means we probably can’t get this sweet courier gig anymore.

Shop information
Potama (Tokyo Midtown Yaesu branch) / ポーたま(東京ミッドタウン八重洲店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Yaesu 2-2-1, Tokyo Midtown Yaesu basement level 1
住所 東京都中央区八重洲2丁目2番1号 東京ミッドタウン八重洲 地下1階
Open 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

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