Sunday, October 14, 2012

Brick and Mortar Onigilly

We've been enjoying Onigilly onigiri for several years, visiting their food cart and booths at various events from Off the Grid to the SF Street Food Festival. We really admire the way they've made their business become reality! The idea is straightforward and simple, yet we can see how it has evolved since we ate our first rice ball standing in line a couple years ago at the Street Food Festival waiting to try the dish next door, and now it's turned into a lovely cozy restaurant on Kearny street helping FiDi workers get something tasty and healthy for lunch. (open 11am-3pm)

The space is bright and inviting with a few small tables for eating in, and a bench for people waiting on to- go orders. Angela was a bit paranoid about the line when she rode up on her bike, but it turns out that once you are in the doorway, you're next to order. It makes total sense to put the register next to the door, which allows customers inside room to move around instead of fighting for elbow room with those waiting to order. Props on this floor plan! However, it also makes the line look long, even though our wait to order was short. Food delivery time was quick. You can definitely make lunch here happen in under an hour and not feel rushed.

They have a couple different order options now. Our group all got the "Onigillly" which is three rice balls with salad and some edamame on the side. A full meal. They have onigiri flights to choose from or you can create your own. Other patrons had the bowls which looked delicious; they arrive with salad or rice featuring the onigiri toppings of your choice.

Angela ordered her own set of 3 with a side of seaweed salad. Unagi, Chicken Teriyaki and Salmon graced her plate. The Unagi was savory and tender, the sauce is her favorite. Flavorful organic chicken is put to good use with Teriyaki and rice surrounded by the savory seaweed wrapper. Gently cooked Salmon and rice paired with homemade pickled ginger (ooo, Swap idea!) was a delightful taste sensation.The seaweed salad was the perfect complement to western leafy greens. The portions were generous (perhaps slightly more so than the food cart?).

JK got the Seafood Duper trio which featured the Unagi (broiled freshwater eel with sweet soy), Tempra [sic] Shrimp (honey soy dipped tempura fried shrimp) and Kani (Canadian Snow Crab meat mixed with lemon agave aioli) Onigiri. Unfortunately she didn't realize that this had aioli, which seriously detracted from the taste of the crab for her, as JK does not like mayonnaise. Next time she will order  two shrimp or two unagi or maybe something entirely different for her third onigiri. This plate also had salad with Miso Dressing, edamame and house pickled ginger.

Beth enjoyed these three Onigiri; Bacon (cooked bacon with garlic butter, sake and chili sauce), Hijiki Seaweed (soy braised seaweed strings with shredded carrots) and Miso Tuna Salad (cooked wild albacore mixed with miso aioli; the miso didn't help this one, even though Beth likes mayonnaise), along side her salad, ginger and edamame.

Right now Onigilly is still in it's "soft opening" phase and the three of us each received surveys as first time customers. When we return and bring the survey they will give $2 off our order. A good deal! Onigilly is choosing to show their roots with pride by displaying their story as art on the walls. The actual art is pretty interesting, too.

Do you enjoy rice? What's your favorite topping?  Would you take rice balls for lunch? Onigiri are quite easy to make at home, but it's nice to eat out and enjoy some professional cooking so try out Onigilly today or tomorrow. Considering their business smarts they should be around a long time.

UPDATE: Onigilly has posted the changes they chose to make after reading their customer surveys and taking the  comments into consideration. You can check out their new and improved menu online, or just stop by the store! I'm hungry just thinking about it. Yum!

UPDATE:  April 2013
Happy Hour Visit

Sake Sangria FTW!
Edamame with a delish garlic sauce!
Dead Soldiers
Octopus Takoyaki! Hot crispy outside with fishy bonito flakes sprinkled on top.
Who can resist clams in a bowl?
Golden Beet Salad. The pink stuff tasted amazing.
Unagi handroll, well, they call it a 'taco'. We call it real tasty.

The happy hour menu at Onigilly is seasonal, but if you're up to date by following twitter/facebook, they let you know what's new in the resto. The Sake Sangria is a treat and something you can make at home for sushi parties. Great inspiration to the home entertainer. Our favorite twist was the garlic edamame. If you want a happy hour snack, get them. The service was great too! Onigilly is here to stay. Yay!