Ever since the tapioca milk tea craze hit Japan, the thirst for boba balls has grown to include weird and wonderful creations like tapioca beer, bubble tea ramen and boba ice cream bars.
Now it’s time to try boba onigiri rice balls, which are currently being sold exclusively at Japan’s Aeon retail chain. They’ve been causing such a stir online with fans that we were keen to try them for ourselves, so we headed out to Aeon to get our hands on one of the onigiri, taking it back to the office for a taste test.
What makes the rice balls even more interesting is the fact that they’re actually soy-sauce pickled tapioca onigiri. Written on the label is “Showa vs. Heisei/Reiwa Onigiri Championship“, suggesting that these new rice balls symbolize the direction we’re heading in now as we leave the traditions of the Showa (1926-1989) and Heisei era (1989-2019) and enter the new Reiwa era from May this year.
Looking at the ingredients, we could see that each rice ball consisted of locally grown rice, soy sauce pickled tapioca, seaweed, and salt.
Unwrapping the package revealed a seaweed-wrapped rice ball that looked no different to any other we’ve seen before.
▼ Splitting it in two, however, revealed its very unusual filling.
Turning up the light to really see its contents, we could see a cluster of bright, shiny boba balls glistening with an orange hue from the soy sauce pickling. While the balls looked small, they packed a punch when we ate them, delivering tasty bursts of salty soy with every mouthful.
The color and texture of the filling actually tricked us into thinking we were eating salmon roe with soy sauce, making it an even more unusual experience. And once we’d finished it, we could’ve easily downed another, so if you’re going to head out to try one of these, we highly recommend buying two so you’re not left wishing for more boba after getting a taste of it.
Or you can do what we did earlier, by making tapioca milk tea rice in the rice cooker.
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