When a restaurant stops selling your favorite menu item, sometimes you have to roll matters into your own hands.

The kebab norimaki (sushi roll) at Star Kebab is our Japanese-language reporter Ikuna Kamezawa’s favorite thing to eat in Tokyo’s Akihabara district. In fact, at least one other member of our team can second that, as sampling it was a life-changing experience for him. It seems like a large portion of the general population is also in agreement, especially after the eatery stated that it would close down for good in February of last year citing coronavirus-related losses and the poor health of its owner, only to reopen again just over a month later amid many well wishes from long-time devotees.

The food in question is an original creation of Star Kebab that fuses two different cuisines into one by means of a sushi roll (rice inside an outer nori wrapping) filled with kebab meat and pickles. Its resulting taste is a harmonious blend of delicious flavors and textures that always has Ikuna coming back for more.

That’s why she was aghast upon her latest visit to Star Kebab only to discover that the kebab norimaki was no longer on the menu.

▼ Star Kebab’s kebab norimaki of bygone days

She asked the worker if it was really, truly gone, to which they replied “yes” in an assured tone. She couldn’t catch the reason for its departure because of some loud noises in the street, but it sounded like this development had happened sometime within the past half year. “But it was SO delicious…WHY??!!” Ikuna wailed in her head.

She then started blaming herself for not visiting the shop for such a long time, as if that were the determining factor. However, what’s done is done, and she couldn’t change the past. The kebab norimaki wasn’t going to magically reappear, no matter how much she wished for it.

Suddenly, she caught sight of a section of the menu featuring side orders, including pickles–one of the main stars of the kebab norimaki. The wheels starting turning in her mind.

What if she were to purchase some pickles and kebab meat on its own and then combine them into a norimaki herself at home? It seemed like an interesting idea…so she requested a box packed with those two fillings and paid 1,000 yen (US$6.35) for it. Weighing it once she got home, the delicious mix weighed 248 grams (8.75 ounces).

That’s when she noticed something unfortunate–those weren’t pickles mixed in with the chicken, but jalapenos. Oh dear…

She blamed the error on either her pronunciation being bad or a cruel trick of fate. However, as a seasoned writer, she knew that she had to adapt to unexpected challenges thrown her way. She prepared the only other two ingredients she needed–nori and cooked white rice (she recommends keeping it slightly on the firm side)–as well as a cheap bamboo rolling mat from a Japanese 100-yen store.

Actually, it was Ikuna’s very first time making any kind of norimaki in her life. She didn’t know if she were assembling it correctly, but the spread seemed OK so far.

She ran into some trouble when trying to use the bamboo mat. The contents didn’t want to roll together easily at all.

She reduced the amount of rice inside and tried again.

Nope–it still wasn’t cooperating.

A new solution occurred to her and she decided to try increasing the surface area of the nori.

At last Ikuna was able to roll it up!

Somewhat cautiously, she took a bite…

…and tasted a kebab norimaki very similar to the menu item of her memories! Well, almost, except that jalapenos were substituting for pickles. But dare she say it, she might like this version even better.

On a final note, the chicken and jalapeno mixture that she purchased was enough to make roughly three kebab norimaki–so it wasn’t just delicious, but cost-effective, too. This cooking hack will certainly be convenient when she has a huge appetite but isn’t near a Lawson Store 100 to grab one of their dekamori items.

Restaurant information
Star Kebab Take Away / スターケバブ テイクアウェイ
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Sotokanda 1-8-10
東京千代田外神田 1-8-10
Open: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

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