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Known by Japanese names onigiri or musubi (or just plain old rice balls), these traditional Japanese lunch-box treats are popping up everywhere in fusion form. Basically rice molded into a cylinder or triangle and filled with a seasoned protein and/or veggie, they’re the Asian analog to the sandwich. Here are some of the spots where Angelenos are enjoying this inexpensive (usually less than $4 per ball) and portable snack.

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Mama Musubi

This farmers’ market vendor pops up everywhere from DTLA to Irvine selling rice rolls. Top-level ingredients range from traditional Japanese cuisine like salmon to more Western iterations such as barbecued beef. And don’t miss the recurring workshops on making critter-shaped rice balls.

Various locations; 323-682-8089 or

LA rice balls kawaba LIST

Kawaba Rice Ball

This Japanese deli serves its musubi made to order, with the rice hot and the outer nori roll crispy. Order “the bomb,” which has rice wrapped around a boiled egg seasoned with sweet soy sauce. It’s basically the definition of umami.

7368 Melrose Ave.; 323-272-4510 or

LA rice balls sunny blue LIST
Ron S./Yelp

Sunny Blue

The curry omusubi, with chicken, scallions and Japanese wafuu curry, is jam-packed with flavor but not too hot. (If it’s heat you’re going for, order a side of Godzilla sauce made from anchovies, red chilies and garlic.) 

Multiple locations;

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Seoul Sausage Co.

Seoul Sausage Co.

Here the venerable Asian rice ball is fried up and oh-so crispy. They come in two flavor-forward iterations: “flaming” is cheesy kimchi fried rice and pork while “Osaka” is Japanese curried rice, beef and potato. The choice is yours.

Multiple locations;

LA rice balls gam tu bop LIST
Telli N./Yelp

Gam Tu Bop

This little food counter is a five-minute walk from the Americana at the Brand shopping center, so grab a beef bulgogi rice ball coated in savory green furikake seasoning. Eat while you stroll around and window-shop. 

132 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; 818-696-1236 or

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