Get Some Rice Balls
Sometimes I get frustrated that I have eaten everywhere worthwhile in Manhattan. I think, like P.J. Harvey, “Is that all there is?” Then I find something exciting and it wills me to travel above 14th street! This excitement is called Oms/b, a Japanese counter cafe serving up omusubi. Omusubi is otherwise known as “rice ball,” similar to sushi but very different too. For one the size is much larger and triangular, and the wrappings vary though seaweed seems to be the most common. They offer many vegan options and the vegetarian options are noted on the placards. Read the extensive menu carefully as some vegetarian selections contain mayonaise. Oms/b is a unique operation that reels in the Midtown East lunch crowd. You can tell the place has a loyal following and that diners are excited to be there. The pieces range from 1.50 to 2.95 so it welcomes experimentation and multiple trips to the counter. On my visit I ordered the “Set A,” a combination dish with any 3 rice balls (excluding a handful of fancier balls) and a soup. I got the Seaweed, the Plum, and the Hijiki… and a “Football Rice” (their Inari) to round it out with a familiar, well-loved taste. There were a few on the menu that they didn’t have during my visit so I’ll have to return, including a tofu steak one, a root vegetable one, and a wasabi one wrapped in a green soy sheet. The Seaweed was a nice subtle bite, though I missed a bit of texture. The Hijiki, wrapped in a yellow soy sheet, was very delicious. It had edamame along with the hijiki in the brown rice. Plus its beautiful yellow soy sheet coat was pretty. The Plum was my least favorite. It was filled with Kishu plum, a salty pickled plum that kind of shocked my palate. I swore it was a fish and even did a google search after tasting it to be sure. I wasn’t able to finish that one but know that if I am ever craving saltiness, which I do often, I may enjoy it more. The Football Inari was scrumptious, as per usual. Its rice had vinegar and what seemed to be mushrooms throughout. The moist, sweet tofu skin need not much more to be delicious. Overall, Oms/b was a great find and I look forward to returning to try some of their other soy sheet-wrapped wonders. Besides the rice balls, they also have some vegetarian appetizers on the menu, including tofu nugget, seaweed salads, spring rolls, as well as a variety of udon noodle soups and desserts like dango, mochi, and daifuku. I can’t wait to go back!
On the downside: They don’t take credit card, have no public restroom and seating is a bit cramped and communal.