When we walked into the Torrance Mitsuwa Marketplace, we were greeted by the glorious vision of the Japanese Gourmet Fair. It was like finding a magical door into Japan. Several booths were set u, with vendors hawking their wares, yelling in Japanese and offering, my favorite, free samples. A line snaked around the corner of the Omusubi Gonbei stand, which I figured was a good sign. Plus, the cashier was wearing what looked like a rice ball hat on her head, so I was completely won over.
The rice balls are made on site, so as you wait in line, you can see a busy trio of cooks quickly assembling each rice ball.
With 14 flavors being offered, they were working non-stop on each batch. Faced with such a wide variety, it was difficult to choose. Also, I had just eaten and was pretty full so it was a delicate dance as to how many I could successfully eat without making myself feel too full.
Somehow, I decided two was the magic number and made my purchase. Chopsticks and a little wipe/hand towel were included, a nice thoughtful touch.
Since I had somehow managed to refrain from eating a deep-fried katsu plate for lunch, I splurged and ordered the fried chicken and mayo rice ball. The portion of fried chicken was sooooo small – like maybe 1.5 cm wide. It was sooooo good – even my daughter was raving about it. So tasty, it made me curious as to whether Omusubi Gonbei might be paying a visit to our local Mitsuwa so we could get it again.
I balanced the fried chicken rice ball with the healthier selection of a grilled salmon rice ball. Made of sockeye salmon, the salmon portion was probably four times the size of the fried chicken – odd, considering both are the same price, and salmon is a more expensive food item. The salmon was fresh and flavorful and made up for the lack of fried chicken in the other ball.
I completely enjoyed the rice balls from Omusubi Gonbei and would have loved to try more flavors. I hoped that the Japanese Gourmet Fair would make its way to the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Santa Monica as well. Alas, it would not.
Unless you are lucky enough to live close to the Mitsuwa in New Jersey, where Omusubi Gonbei has a permanent stall in the food court, you have to hustle over to either the Mitsuwa in Torrance or San Jose by June 20th to try their delicious rice balls, before Omusubi Gonbei goes bye.
Location: 21515 S. Western Avenue, Torrance, 90501. Also a pop up in San Jose and in the Mitsuwa Marketplace in New Jersey.
Website – http://www.mitsuwa.com/restaurants-shops/restaurants-sushi/omusubi-gonbei/
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes