Sunny Blue

Japanese in Santa Monica
Andy Bender/Lonely Planet
Andy Bender/Lonely Planet

In Japan, omusubi (rice balls, aka onigiri) are an everyday staple, and this counter-service shop aims to make them popular Stateside. Before your eyes, the cheerful staff stuffs fluffy rice with dozens of fillings such as miso beef, spicy salmon and chicken curry – and veggie-friendly options like miso mushroom and hijiki seaweed – then wraps it in a crunchy nori seaweed wrapper.

They're totally portable, kids love 'em and they're the perfect size and shape for a picnic at the beach, a short walk away, or a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Get yours with a traditional home-style side dish such as daikon radish salad or kinpira gobo (shredded burdock root and carrot), and Japanese soft drinks such as ramune (lemon-lime) soda or green-tea latte.

There's another location in Culver City.