Ligaya Mishan hangs out in the slightly quirky Hanamizuki, which specializes in creative takes on rice balls (onigiri or omusubi in Japanese).
They are small, on the scale of tea scones, and at their most basic are made of little more than rice and salt, tucked into a sleeve of nori. They are the equivalent of bologna on white bread to Americans: a nation's collective memory of school lunch.
Here, they aren't are so traditional. Rather, they are:
Still humble, but slightly offbeat, as if sprung from a Haruki Murakami novel. A version called the Italian looks and tastes wholly Japanese, with stray ticks of salt and vinegar, but it's been infiltrated with salami, olives and capers.
There's also B.L.T. miso soup "bacon afloat in miso soup, wreathed by shredded romaine and tomatoes half-shriveled and hyper-sweet" and a Hawaiian-staple, a rice ball topped with Spam. The menu is ideal for snacking, says Mishan.