INTRODUCING ONIGIRI TO THE MASSES
A good foodie is always on the lookout for something new to taste. In this town, the ‘next big thing’ is always in high demand. Recently, I was introduced to onigiri, think triangular rice balls with various fillings. During a visit to the weekly Farmers Market at Pershing Square, which takes place every Wednesday from 10am to 2pm, I came upon Lunchbox and its delightful onigiri. The Lunchbox folks like to say they’re adding a modern twist by adding innovative fillings such as spicy tuna and beef.
At Lunchbox, they’re building on a classic dish say co-founder Jay Lee. “We decided to take the classic concept of onigiri and put a new spin on it by adding more flavors to the rice and making it crispy with fillings that we thought tasted great. We paired our onigiri with a custard omelet, which was inspired by the tamago sushi that you would find at Japanese restaurants. The sweetness and clean-yet-creamy texture of our omelet pair perfectly with our onigiri.”
Created by friends Jay Lee and Steve Ryu, the concept was simple: take a dish they love and introduce it to likeminded foodies. “Steve and I always had a love of food and decided to team up to offer a product that people would love,” Lee explains. “We took a dish that we loved and grew up on and took to innovation in efforts to offer a dish that distinguishes us from your run-of-the-mill onigiri and musubis. And Luchboxes' crispy onigiri was born!”
The scene at the Pershing Square weekly market is pretty vibrant filled with hungry eaters, either on their lunch hour or making a day of it in downtown. During my visit, I looked over the various food stalls and found Lunchbox inviting. I tried their crispy rice combo with spicy tuna. All combos also come with a side salad and custard omelet. I also tried their onigiri with Korean BBQ, and spicy pork. They’re all really tasty and don’t skimp on the protein of your choice. The spicy tuna is fresh and clean and comes across like a wonderful oversized sushi roll. The Korean BBQ has a familiar and favorite taste, while the spicy pork just really hits it on all levels.
So why else should you hit up the Lunchbox booth at the weekly market?
“We studied onigiri extensively and we went around places in LA that offer our type of food,” says Lee. “What we've realized and agreed is that quality and ingredient proportion will be a priority when we open our doors. The many places we tried all had similar problems; way too much rice. We couldn't even taste the meat. It was all one-dimensional. There was no element of texture. We've created a taste and texture that leaves people speechless and offer quality over quantity.”
Since onigiri was knew to me, I quickly found out that onigiri, musubi, kimbap, samgak kimbap, and even sushi can all mean the same thing. “It doesn't have to be a Hawaiian delicacy or even a $100 omakase meal,” Lee points out. “Onigiri is your true grab-n-go sushi to pick up on your way to work or school; take with you to the beach or that family picnic. Onigiri not only tastes great but it’s a fun way to get people into that cuisine.”
I’m sold and a new convert. If you find yourself near Pershing Square on a Wednesday, make sure you hit up Lunchbox for your onigiri fill.
You can find the Lunchbox stand every Wednesday from 10am to 2pm at the Farmers Market at Pershing Square, located at 532 S. Olive Street.