Perry’s Review: Japanese Rice Balls from Onigiri at Broadway Bites

(credit: Perry R.)
Broadway Bites (credit: Perry R.)

Broadway Bites, which we visited in the freezing cold around Thanksgiving, is back, and the weather is much more hospitable now.

Similar to Madison Square Eats, Broadway Bites is a food market with over 30 vendors situated in booths in a public space. In this case, they are on Broadway between 32nd & 34th St.

If you go to any of the outdoor food markets (or read New York Street Food), many of the vendors have been previously reviewed by us, such as Red Hook Lobster Pound, Mexicue and  La Newyorkina, among others.

Onigiri by Tampopo is a new market vendor we haven’t tried before that serves Japanese rice balls with 6 types of fillings. They cost $5 each, so we had to get two for lunch. Wasabi Shrimp and Spicy Chicken were the two choices from the menu that initially caught our eye.

(credit: Perry R.)
(credit: Perry R.)

Rice balls is a bit of a misnomer, as they are actually triangular, but rice triangles just doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily. We’ll call them rice balls here for simplicity.

Inside the rice balls are the requested filling, and the onigiri are wrapped in nori, a thin seaweed wrapper with the consistency of thin paper (but more flavorful).

Once the onigiri are wrapped, they are put into a small “boat” and served.

We started with the Spicy Chicken, but they are using the term lightly. There wasn’t much in the way of chicken, and it certainly wasn’t spicy, at least by NYC street food standards.

(credit: Perry R.)
Spicy Chicken (credit: Perry R.)

There was some minced chicken in a sauce of some type, but there was so little, it was hard to taste.

The Wasabi Shrimp was a little better. There was more in the way of shrimp, and a little kick from the wasabi. It’s not like the oniogiri was loaded with shrimp, but there seemed to be more meat than in the chicken one.

Eating the onigiri was a little tricky at first. Biting through the nori wasn’t easy, and the rice squished a bit outside the wrapper before our teeth got through the wrapper and into the rice.

We know that fish and meats are used more as accents than as the main course in these types of dishes (rice is the main course), but more filling would have been appreciated.

The owners have to keep in mind that they are serving New Yorkers, who are used to meat piled on sandwiches, and large portions. With the aid of a bag of M&M’s mid-afternoon, we lasted until dinner, but just barely.

Broadway Bites (website here) runs from June 3rd through August 1st, and is open from 11am-9pm daily. This makes it a good destination if you’re in the Herald Square or Penn Station area, especially around dinner time.

Lunch was crowded, but we did hit Broadway Bites on the very first day they were open. It should get less crowded over time, which is a good thing, because there are several other vendors we want to try.

(credit: Perry R.)
Wasabi Shrimp (credit: Perry R.)