Yanesen is an area in Tokyo that combines Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi. It is a rare place in Tokyo where historical townscapes from the Edo period (1603-1868) remain despite the progress of redevelopment.

In the Yanaka area, there are many shrines and temples, and you can enjoy a stroll that allows you to feel the history of Japan. On Yanaka Ginza shopping street, you can enjoy traditional Japanese snacks and sweets at cafes or while strolling.

The place I'm introducing this time is "Onigiri Cafe RISAKU", a specialty shop for onigiri (rice balls) at Sendagi. Onigiri is one of the most familiar portable foods for Japanese people, nutritionally balanced and popular among a wide range of age groups. It has existed since about 2000 years ago, and spread as a snack for travelers and during rice planting in the Edo period (1603-1868). Of course, I also love it and still take it with me for outdoor lunches like picnics.

At "Onigiri Cafe RISAKU", you can enjoy not only coffee but also traditional Japanese light meals such as onigiri and miso soup. In Japan, there are many places called cafes where you can enjoy meals, so please visit during mealtime. From here, I will introduce the charms and recommended menu items of "Onigiri Cafe RISAKU".

Reasons to recommend Onigiri Cafe RISAKU

Wide variety of "onigiri"

Source: Official website

Onigiri Cafe RISAKU currently offers a wide variety of 36 types of onigiri.

Onigiri is named after the act of pressing cooked rice by hand. There are two types of rice, white rice and brown rice, with brown rice being the state where only the husk is removed from the rice grain, and white rice being the refined form of brown rice. In terms of wheat flour, brown rice is whole wheat flour and white rice is white wheat flour, with brown rice being a healthier food with higher nutritional value.

RISAKU mainly uses white rice, but they also have brown rice onigiri, flavored only with salt to enjoy the deliciousness of the brown rice itself. 

In addition to simple onigiri with only salt, they also offer onigiri with your choice of over 30 types of ingredients such as fish and vegetables mixed into the rice. It's rare to find a shop with such a wide variety!

The deliciousness and ingredient combinations are different from homemade onigiri, so I often go there to eat. Please try to find your favorite flavor too.

Particular about the cooking method and ingredients

Source: Official website

The rice in RISAKU's onigiri is exceptionally delicious. They source high-quality rice directly from the producing areas and cook it in small batches many times using a “hagama”, a pot dedicated to rice cooking, to provide onigiri made with the most delicious freshly cooked rice.

In modern Japan, many households use a rice cooker appliance, where you just put in rice and water and press a switch to cook it. On the other hand, the hagama is a traditional Japanese pot for cooking rice, and while it is difficult to manage the fire, you can enjoy a professional taste that cannot be experienced at home. The rice cooked in RISAKU's hagama has a distinct texture for each grain, and the more you chew, the more you can feel the sweetness.

The approximately 30 types of ingredients available at all times are also handmade from carefully selected ingredients from various regions, with care taken to maximize the flavor of the ingredients.

Recommended menu items at Onigiri Cafe RISAKU

Onigiri set menus

Set Menu
Source: Official website

RISAKU offers various set menus, making it difficult to choose. So let me introduce the set menus that I recommend!

① Set A (Open to 3:00 p.m.)
This set is suitable for a light meal, with two onigiri of your choice and one miso soup. There is no additional charge for any onigiri you choose. If it is cheaper to buy a la carte than to buy a set, they will calculate it at the cheaper price. The onigiri are small and not very filling, so it's a good idea to add extra onigiri that can be ordered a la carte.

② Weekly lunch (11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) 
I recommend adding miso soup for an extra charge to the brown rice onigiri, your choice of onigiri, and side dishes. It's good for when you want to eat it as a lunch because you can eat it with side dishes. The portions are small, so it's okay to order extra.

③ RISAKU plate (11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
This is a full set with two onigiri of your choice, chicken or fish, side dishes, miso soup, and dessert. The portions may seem small for the price, but it is recommended for those who want to taste everything.

Dashimaki Tamago (Japanese rolled omelet)

Japanese Omelette
Source: Official website

Dashimaki tamago is an egg dish made by adding "dashi" made from boiled kelp, bonito flakes, etc. to well-beaten eggs and then grilling them. It is a popular side dish for onigiri, familiar to Japanese people from children to the elderly. Although it is a home-cooked dish, it requires skill and is difficult to make it fluffy and beautifully delicious, so I feel like buying and eating it at a specialty store.

The eggs used in RISAKU's dashimaki tamago are a Japanese brand egg called 'Okukuji Ran'. They are of the highest quality, with richness, depth, and umami that are loved by top-notch chefs.

The handmade dashimaki tamago at the store has a fluffy texture and is very delicious with the subtle flavor of dashi, so I highly recommend it!

It is often included as one of the four side dishes, but you can also purchase it a la carte, so please give it a try.

Cat-shaped dorayaki (sweet bean pancake)

Source: Official website

RISAKU also sells desserts. Among them, I especially recommend the "Cat-shaped dorayaki". It is a traditional Japanese confectionery consisting of two pancakes sandwiching sweet bean paste, and it is very delicious!

This product is made exclusively for RISAKU by a local Japanese confectionery shop called "Wagashi Kunpu". The bean paste is handmade, and the pancakes are also hand-grilled one by one. This Japanese confectionery shop, run almost single-handedly by the owner, is a famous store that has been featured in many magazines and TV programs in Japan.

The dorayaki has a baked seal of RISAKU's character cat and seasonal patterns, which is very cute. It's also fun to see how the baked seal changes finely according to Japan's unique four seasons, from cherry blossoms around April to birds, dragonflies, and snow.

It can be purchased a la carte, so please give it a try.

Wagashi Kunpu Official Website: https://www.wagashikunpu.com/

Must-try standard onigiri menu items

The two must-try standard onigiri fillings are salmon and umeboshi (pickled plum). Let me introduce these two that you can also eat at RISAKU.

Salmon has long been a favorite in Japan because it is caught in large quantities in the waters near Japan. It is also nutritionally superior, containing not only protein but also many other nutritional values, and has effects on fatigue recovery and beautiful skin. Salted salmon goes very well with white rice and is superb. I always order the salmon onigiri.

Umeboshi, which has also been eaten in Japan for a long time, is made by salting and drying plums, and is characterized by its sourness. It has many health benefits such as appetite enhancement, fatigue recovery, and beautiful skin. When put in onigiri, the sourness of the umeboshi goes well with the rice and adds an accent. While it is a standard for Japanese people, some overseas customers find it too sour or feel that having only one filling is lonely. Opinions may vary, but it's worth a try.

RISAKU offers not only single-item salmon and umeboshi, but also onigiri that combine multiple ingredients such as salmon and mentaiko (spicy cod roe), salmon and miso, and umeboshi and bonito flakes. For unusual combinations, I personally recommend cream cheese with cod roe and salmon with salted salmon roe.

Access to Onigiri Cafe RISAKU

Address: 2-31-6 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

The nearest station is Sendagi Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, located a very short 1-minute walk from Exit 1 on a flat road. If you head straight south along the street (Shinobazu-dori/Tokyo Metropolitan Route 437), you will find it on your right.

The building has a traditional Japanese-style design, characterized by vertically aligned wooden boards. The landmark is the store's blue circular signboard with the words "Onigiri Cafe RISAKU" and the character cat depicted on it.

There is no parking lot, so train and walking are convenient.

Is a reservation necessary? Recommended usage

Basically, you can eat without a reservation, but if you are concerned, it is safer to make a reservation as they close when they sell out. Also, if you need a large number of people, make a reservation. Reservations can be made by phone (03-5834-7292).

Takeaway is also available. Onigiri wrapped for takeout is provided, making it easy to carry and just right for strolling. Lunch boxes containing onigiri and side dishes are also recommended.

<Congestion situation>
During lunchtime congestion, you may have to wait outside the store for about 30-40 minutes. Since RISAKU provides services for both takeout and in-store customers, it can take more than 20 minutes to be served. Therefore, it is better to think that it will take about 1 hour in total. It is recommended to allow plenty of time.

Basic information about Onigiri Cafe RISAKU

- Regular holiday: Wednesday (irregular holidays may occur)
- Phone number: 03-5834-7292  
- Business hours: 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Website: https://www.risaku-tokyo.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/risaku_oniigiri_tokyo
- X: https://twitter.com/risakusaku
- Payment methods: No credit cards, electronic money accepted, QR code payment accepted (PayPay, d payment, au PAY)  
- Number of seats: 20 seats

The set menus at Onigiri Cafe RISAKU are not very filling, so they are suitable for light meals. Therefore, it is okay to order additional items a la carte. My recommendation is not to fill up at this store alone, but to enjoy a variety of foods, as the Yanesen area has many cafes where you can eat traditional Japanese snacks and sweets while strolling!