Mitchell, 3. August 2008, 20:08

Yes, it’s a dumb name, but it is a GREAT idea: specialty musubis. As Penny mentioned, the ingredients for every musubi are listed on little title cards in the shop. It was like a trip to the candy store, except I don’t really like candy. I do, however, love me some musubi.


This photo’s not great because I had my white-balance set to tungsten instead of sunlight and had to adjust the colors in Photoshop, which I suck at. However, I think it’s clear that these are some nicely made musubis. At the top is the ten-grain hijiki musubi, which was very flavorful with a nice, nutty texture. The salty flavor of the hijiki really added to this; it was my favorite of the lot. To the right of the hijiki is the curried musubi (ordered by Reid). Nice flavor here, but I think it needed some kind of meat, like a little bit of chopped chicken or something. Next to that is the baked salmon brown-rice musubi, ordered by Reid. You gotta love all that nori, but Reid’s first words were “not being able to see the salmon is a bad sign.”

Perhaps. But when you eat an ume musubi, you don’t expect the ume to be in every bite (although that would be great, come to think of it). This was actually quite good, and if I liked salmon a little bit more I’d think it was great. Next is something I used to experiment with in college: misoyaki musubi with brown rice. Penny and Reid responded quite positively to this; I thought it was good, but I wanted more miso flavor. The fact that the musubi is (I’m guessing) pan-fried makes this really nice; I like the crusty exterior a LOT, but that did take some of the miso flavor out.

At the bottom is the ume edamame musubi, the only white-rice musubi I ordered. For white rice, Mana Bu uses Tamanishiki, which is one of those two-bucks-per-pound premium rices they sell in mylar bags. I think the simplicity of this musubi really made the quality of the rice stand out; always a good thing, in my book. This had bits of ume mixed in with the rice, which I loved.

In the upper left is some kind of chocolate muffin Penny ordered and I didn’t try. Next to that is a teri grilled corn, also ordered by Penny. Flavorful and nice, but at two bucks probably overpriced. The musubis we purchased ranged from $1.25 to $1.50 each, which when you consider the price of a spam musubi at 7-Eleven is quite a deal. It should be evident from the photo that this is a lovingly, carefully made product. Someone cares about quality work here, and that goes a long way with me. I am definitely headed back sometime before the end of my summer break. This is a great lunch.

I liked these musubis, and they’re great for the price (although the spam musubi at $1.29 at 7-11 may be a better deal, at least in terms of filling you up.) I agree with a lot of Mitchell’s comments. The rice was well done (particuarly in that edamame one). It reminded me of the way the rice was prepared at Sasabune. Surprisingly, the ten grain might have been my favorite. I liked the nutty quality and texture of this one. I normally don’t like the grilled rice (slightly crunchy), but I liked the misoyaki, one. It had just a little crunch, and the flavor was good. The salmon was OK–a bit more salmon than I expected, it wasn’t tiny flakes mixed in with the rice like the ones they used to sell at 7-11. I did like the fact that they served it with brown rice, though. (Mitchell, you should try the ahi patty musubi at Tanioka’s.) Again, I agree with Mitchell that these were well-made musubis, and for lunch during the workday, a couple of them are perfect. (I can’t see how this place is going to last, unless they change locations, though).

Regarding Mana Bu’s, teri corn was good when it was hot, but this place is for people who are serious about their rice. I am not serious about my rice. The kind of people that would appreciate Mana Bu’s are the ones who don’t like the water to hit the rice directly from the faucet when washing rice, because that is treating the rice too roughly. Rather, people should put their hand between the running water and the rice allowing the water to drip down “more softly?” onto the rice. The no-oil, steamed chocolate chip cupcake was good. I little sticky (like when steamed manapua is sticky), but good chocolate flavor. Yum.

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