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The Mitsuwa Marketplace flier translates omusubi as rice balls, but actually, they are triangular in shape. Some are wrapped in seaweed, providing a convenient holder, and others are studded with sesame seeds. But they have one thing in common: When eaten right after they are made, they are warm, comforting and delicious.
Omusubi Gonbei, a Japanese chain known for its handmade rice balls, opened a kiosk at the Edgewater supermarket on Friday, and it will be selling rice balls there from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Nov. 7. They are made with organic white or brown rice, and cost $1.50 to $2.50 each (cash only), depending on the filling. A flier I received Friday listed the price incorrectly as $1.50 each.
When I arrived a little after 1 Friday afternoon, the shelves were bare -- the demand was overwhelming on the first day -- and the kiosk staff was getting ready to make more rice balls. I was told the wait would be at least 30 minutes.
I ordered rice balls with salmon eggs ($2.50 each) and went to have a cup of coffee. When I returned, I was informed the salmon eggs were still frozen and I would have to choose another filling. I asked for five rice balls with cooked salmon. Meanwhile, I bought a warm mixed-rice ball to tide me over and ate it right away. I ate two of the salmon rice balls with the last of my coffee, one in the car and saved the others for my wife.
They are delicious in their simplicity: a few ounces of warm rice formed by hand with a little cooked fish and miso paste inside, wrapped in seaweed. I asked if the Japanese ate them as an appetizer or snack, but was told they are considered a meal.
As a steady stream of customers lined up to place their orders, I watched a man and two women behind the counter making rice balls as fast as possible.
I have been eating rice balls for years, but none of them approach the warm rice balls turned out by this team. When they return to Japan, you can find rice balls at Mitsuwa, as well as at Parisienne Bakery at Main Street and Center Avenue in Fort Lee.
Mitsuwa Marketplace, 595 River Road, Edgewater; 201-941-9113.
A buy on Mexican hot sauce
I found a 34-ounce bottle of Valentine Mexican hot sauce for $1.99 at Hackensack Market on Passaic Street in Hackensack. The shelf sign said two for $4. I bought the bottle with the black label, marked "extra hot."