Onigiri that goes a little further than comfort food to share a little more love with a little more pizazz.

There are many great things about Japanese onigiri, the palm-sized triangular rice ball stuffed with all kinds of imaginative fillings, wrapped within a thin seaweed crisp. It’s easy and delicious; a perfectly balanced bite that’s suited for any time of the day. And now, it turns out, the onigiri is also a wonderfully delicious way to give back and extend gratitude, courtesy of an ingenious charity initiative conceived first in Japan by Hisato Hamada, founder of Wagyumafia, and Yoshihiro Narisawa of the eponymous two-starred institution Narisawa.

Marking a two-week stay — from 20 July through to the beginning of August — inside Landmark Hong Kong’s Belowground, #OnigiriForLove’s residency in the city is part effort of chef Richard Ekkebus of Amber, along with RŌNIN’s Matt Abergel and Sake Central’s Elliot Faber and chef Vincent Ladislao, who leapt at the opportunity to unite the culinary community via the most effective way: scrumptious bites of comfort food. As Yoshihiro Narisawa puts it, “’Onigiri’, which is made from simple ingredients ‘rice and water’, is easy to make and eat for everyone, from children to elders. I hope that this circle of joy and care for each other expands through ‘Onigiri’, which is made by someone thinking of someone else.”

From left to right: Richard Ekkebus of Amber, Yohei Yamamoto of Wagyumafia, Matt Abergel of RŌNIN and Elliot Faber of Sake Central

While hosting chefs (Amber, RŌNIN, Wagyumafia, Sake Central) has each launched a special onigiri of their own, the line-up will also be joined by a cast of nine notable chefs tasked with the similar charge of recreating the humble rice-snack in their own distinct style. The star-studded list includes Agustin Ferrando Balbi of Andō, Peggy Chan of Grassroots, Ricardo Chaneton of Mono, Danny Yip of The Chairman, Umberto Bombana of 8½ Otto e Mezzo, Maxime Gilbert of Écriture, Ferran Tadeo of La Rambla, Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room and Vicky Cheng of VEA. On location, a rotating list of five onigiri — a surprise mix between hosting and guest-starring chefs — will available each day, so be sure to check back and head over to get your hands on all 13 iterations.

As for the perfect pairing, take a swig of Sunday’s Distribution #OnigiriForLove branded sake along with additional tipples served by Kimono.

onigiri for love
From left to right: Andō by Agustin Ferrando Balbi, Écriture by Maxime Gilbert, Grassroots by Peggy Chan, La Rambla by Ferran Tadeo, Mono by Ricardo Chaneton, TATE Dining Room by Vicky Lau, The Chairman by Danny Yip, VEA Restaurant by Vicky Cheng, 8½ Otto e Mezzo by Umberto Bombana

Just like the original intention of #OnigiriForLove in Japan — created initially to offer a spot of comfort for medical workers during the pandemic — Hong Kong’s #OnigiriForLove will be dedicated entirely to local charities Feeding Hong Kong and Impact Hong Kong, two organisations with a mission to “bridge the gap between hunger and food waste.” 100 percent of all profits, as well as any unsold onigiri from the event, will be donated to both charities.

#OnigiriForLove begins 20 June and will run until 1 August from 11am to 8pm daily at Belowground. Belowground, Basement, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong

Lorria Sahmet
Style Editor
After two years of covering luxury retail, Lorria is thrilled to be writing in fashion, food and lifestyle here at Lifestyle Asia. When not roaming around garden centres hauling back new plants for her indoor jungle, find her hunting down the best fries in the city. She's happiest by the ocean with a fishbowl glass of ice-cold Aperol spritz.