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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 mamamusubi.com

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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 kawabariceball.com

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; sunnyblueinc.com

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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; seoulsausage.com

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 gogamtubop.com

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