Fat, Shiny (Rice) Balls


Brown rice isn’t the most glamorous of grains, but when you watch someone fastidiously mold it into a fat, geometrical shape and wrap it in a shining sheet of seaweed, it begins to take on a certain allure. Like the onigiri at Brooklyn Flea from Rice & Miso Everyday.

It’s not that these brown rice balls are delicious, per se. They’re not going to keep you up at night or make you post on Facebook in all caps. But they’re just so darn wholesome that you can’t help but love them. It’s no surprise to find out that Rice & Miso’s founder, Mika Hatsushima Soleimanpour, started cooking them when researching traditional Japanese cooking that might nurture her own daughter.

The onigiri selection stands in stark contrast to the lineup of cheap-thrill eats that populate the Flea. When it’s 90 degrees out, and you’ve had either butter-soaked lobster rolls or deep-fried anchovies every weekend for the past two months, a garlic-miso rice ball seems like an excellent, low-key option. And it is. Perfectly hand-size and portable, the rice balls are filling and hearty and not at all digestively debilitating. And at $3 to $4, it’s one of the few snacks you’ll find at the Flea for just a few bucks.

The onigiri delivers aesthetically, as well. Beautifully and precisely formed by hand, the rice balls are then casually wrapped in thin brown paper to keep your fingers from getting sticky. Everything at Rice & Miso Everyday’s stand–including the font on its sign and its recyclable utensils–is perfectly in theme. It’s the kind of attention to detail that makes you appreciate the simplicity of a rice ball even more.