Today's Groupon rolls $12 worth of fresh fish, shrimp, eel, and soy sauce into a rolling rice ball that can roll into your mouth for $6 at Oms/b Rice Ball Cafe. Twelve dollars doesn't sound like much for a meal, but it'll get you an entire lunch or two at Oms/b, the rice ball specialists that New York magazine named Best Japanese Fast Food in 2004.
Oms/b's name comes from omusubi, the Japanese word for rice balls and the French word for cattle prod. Omusubi, which are rice formed into triangular or oval shapes stuffed with different kinds of meat and sauce and usually wrapped in seaweed, are an extremely popular Japanese lunch eaten in Japan by Japanese people. They're sort of like a cooked, portable type of sushi that's perfect for on-the-go vocations such as spy, marathon spy-cyclist, or spydiver.
Oms/b serves more than 45 types of rice balls, including a California rice ball (crab, cucumber, avocado, and lettuce with vinegar rice), a spicy scallop roll (butter-sautéed scallop with Japanese red pepper), and Hijiki (seaweed and edamame beans mixed with rice, wrapped in yellow soy sheet). Oms/b is a small restaurant, so most diners grab and go. It's a clean, bright space with friendly staff serving the fresh fish, natural ingredients, and carefully selected white rice, brown rice, and mineral-rich salts. An individual rice ball costs $1.50 to $3.25, and the menu has set meals such as any three rice balls and soup for $8.25.
- There are many delicious creations at this bento-box-size shop dedicated to omusubi, the variously stuffed or topped rice balls that are the Japanese-fast-food equivalent of a pizza slice. The shop's more traditional–and portable–omusubi are triangular and filled with a modest amount of anything from spicy tuna rice bowl to pickled plums, before they're folded into a sheet of crisp seaweed that makes a handy, delicious wrapper. — Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, New York
- It seems like these little rice balls are poised to become pretty popular in New York City. I first saw them at Cafe Zaiya a few months ago, but since then they seem to be popping up all over the place… especially in take out sushi restaurants. While I enjoyed the spicy tuna omusubi I had at Cafe Zaiya, Oms/b takes it to the next level. The rice is fresher, the ingredients are better, the selection is larger and the presentation is pretty amazing. As you know, I’m not big into describing how food looks, and I don’t think I ever talk about things like presentation- but man, when you walk into this place it’s pretty sweet. All of the rice balls rolled up in a row is a pretty beautiful sight. – Midtown Lunch
- Grab a few of these and you’ll have a healthful, original lunch for less than five bucks. – Time Out New York
- I stop here frequently for a quick dinner of soba noodles and 3 rice balls. The rice balls are exquisite bursting with flavor. The service is always very pleasant. – bronx md, MenuPages
- This place is great. The food is unique and delicious. I can spend less than $5 in there and be satisfied. The service is friendly and fast. – Bree, MenuPages
- The omusubi here are quite possibly the cutest little things I have ever eaten! – Maria M., Yelp
156 E 45th St
New York, New York 10017Get Directions