While the star of this S Maison restaurant is the golden chicken collagen stock, save some room for Nikumaki Onigiri -- Japanese rice balls wrapped in pork belly worth carbing for.
Nikumaki is a modern onigiri which is said to have been invented in the 90s. It takes the Japanese rice ball (onigri) and uses thinly sliced marinated meat as its wrapper. At Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nojo, their nikumaki uses thin slices of pork belly. The combination of meat (niku) and rice (maki), rolled neatly and conveniently into a ball, makes this a very filling and satisfying appetizer.
These bite-sized (or, make that three-bite) rice balls are wrapped in pork and then baked with a special soy sauce, making every bite sweet, savory, and meaty, with the soft morsels of rice balancing out the flavors. At Bijin Nabe, you can enjoy Nikumaki in assorted flavors. There's original (plain), or you can have it topped with either melted cheese or yuzu-mayo (a blend of yuzu pepper and Japanese mayonnaise). If you want some heat, try the Nikumaki spicy, topped with homemade spicy chili oil.
Each rice ball is served with a lettuce leaf, which you wrap around the nikumaki before you take a big bite. A little warning: this appetizer is quite filling, flavorful meat and rice essentially a complete meal in itself. But if you need to be wise with your rice, then choose this, because this crowd favorite is really worth carbing for.
The Dish: Nikumaki in Original (P105) or with Toppings (P115 - choose among Cheese, Yuzu-mayo, and Spicy)
Where to Find it: Bijin Nabe by Tsukasa Nojo, located at the second level of S Maison Mall, Conrad Manila. Visit tsukadanojo.ph, Like on Facebook (/BijinNabePH), and follow on Instagram (@bijinnabeph) for more information.