Rice balls can be like a tastebud explosion, in a good or a bad way. Here are some more usual, or more first-time-traveler-friendly options for you to try. These are all free of overly strong flavours, or wacky ingredients. Check them out, if you have a chance!
How can you go wrong with plain rice? No seaweed to scare off newbies. This is the perfect option for you or your friends if you are new in town and afraid of sea creatures. The rice is usually lightly salted. Just watch out, the plain rice balls tend to stick to your fingers. This option is also great when you have a hangover, or just need something simple to soothe an agitated tummy.
Simple white rice, brushed and grilled with soy sauce and dashi (Japanese soup stock). These are best eaten hot, if you ask the kind convenience store staff, they will heat it for you. After all, they can read Japanese! Just trust the timing to them.
Chicken Nanban (Chicken with Tartar Sauce) is a speciality of Miyazaki prefecture. Not too weird, a little bit guilt-inducing due to being fried, but all around delicious. This version of the rice ball can be seasonal depending on the vendor, or offered all year round. Although it is wrapped in seaweed (scary to some), it is by no means overly offensive tasting. Kind of like fish and chips, replacing the fish with chicken, the chips with rice, and keeping the tartar sauce.
Beef is good. Grilled beef is better. Grilled beef wrapped in rice, wrapped in seaweed? Heaven! I think the best brand for this is 7-Eleven, but to each their own. The safety and comfort of the beef offsets the unknown scariness of the seaweed. If you have a picky friend in town, pop one of these bad boys down on a plate for them.
So, if you are feeling scared of the local grub, and want to start off safe, give the above a try. Or, if you find another great option that doesn’t involve scary sea creatures, give a shout in the forums! Happy rice balling!