Onigilly, Japanese gourmet rice ball eatery, is coming to Walnut Creek

La Cocina-born restaurant Onigilly, maker of the popular Japanese street food staple, onigiri, is opening a much-needed fast-casual option on Walnut Creek’s Locust Street this summer.

The restaurant, slated to open in August in the spot currently housing De Afghanan at 1372 Locust St., will be the first Contra Costa County location for the small Bay Area chain. Owner and founder Koji Kanematsu, the only male entrepreneur backed by the San Francisco-based incubator kitchen, currently operates restaurants in San Francisco, Palo Alto and San Mateo.

A bit about Kanematsu: When he first came to the United States from Japan in 2006, he was surprised that despite the abundance of sushi restaurants, he couldn’t find his favorite snack: Onigiri, handheld triangles of partially milled brown rice and savory fillings wrapped in seaweed. They are a fast food staple with more than 2,300 years of history and are eaten more frequently than sushi in Japan. That’s how Onigilly (pronounced Oh-NEE-Ghee-Lee) was born.

The menu is simple. Single onigiri will run you $3 to $4 each, with a choice of nearly 20 fillings, from snow crab and spicy miso beef to soy-braised shiitake mushrooms and flash-fried teriyaki tofu. Onigilly offers trios ($6.50-$15) with sides like edamame or wakame salad. They also do rice bowls ($13-$14) and massive poke bowls ($13-$14), plus soups, side dishes and desserts including matcha and yuzu cheesecakes. Related Articles

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Onigilly’s opening comes at a time when Walnut Creek is exploding with new and multicultural offerings. Table at 7, a Singaporean-Cali restaurant helmed by Oakland chef Nora Haron, is headed downtown this month, followed by Third Culture Bakery’s matcha cafe, inspired by treats from Taiwan and Indonesia, in August. Also on tap to open this summer: 5 Tacos & Beer, from Mexican mole expert Lito Saldaña.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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