Cover 13 chefs gather for the #OnigiriForLove launch (Photo: The Landmark Mandarin Oriental)

From The Chairman to VEA, the onigiri gets an haute cuisine makeover, courtesy of a Japanese food charity initiative

Onigiri, a uniquely Japanese creation of fluffy rice wrapped around a filling of meat or pickled vegetables, and then itself enveloped in a coat of nori (dried seaweed), is an easy thing to fall in love with, thanks to its simplicity, convenience and utter deliciousness. No wonder then, that this humble snack is the lynchpin of a new charity initiative first spearheaded in Japan by Wagyumafia's Hisato Hamada and Yoshihiro Narisawa of two-Michelin-starred Narisawa, and now touching down in Hong Kong with an all-star roster of nine chefs.

First launched in February 2021 to mobilise the F&B industry to feed medical workers during the pandemic, #OnigiriForLove caught the attention of Amber's Richard Ekkebus, who subsequently partnered with Ronin chef Matt Abergel and Sake Central's Elliot Faber and Vincent Ladislao to bring the initiative to Hong Kong.

Related: Everyone Should Know How To Cook Rice, Says Chef Jowett Yu

Running until August 1, #OnigiriForLove is popping up at Landmark's Belowground and features onigiri (HK$68 each) created in the distinct styles of 13 of Hong Kong's leading chefs. A rotating selection of five onigiri types will be made available each day from 11am to 8pm, while customers can choose to wash it all down with #OnigiriForLove sake from Sunday's Distribution, or craft sparkling juices from Kimino.

100 percent of the profits will be donated to Feeding Hong Kong and Impact Hong Kong, two charities which aim to combat hunger and food waste, while any unsold onigiri will be donated to Feeding Hong Kong. Keep reading for a full rundown of what each chef made for their onigiri.

  1. Umberto Bombana, 8½ Otto e Mezzo: "Tartufo" onigiri (Carnaroli risotto rice, Parmesan cheese, butter, mascarpone cheese, black truffle)
  2. Vicky Cheng, VEA: Wagyu beef burnt ends with Chinese preserved mustard greens (Akita Komachi rice, wagyu beef, mustard greens, chilli paste, rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, Chinese rose wine)
  3. Richard Ekkebus, Amber: Red miso and sansho pepper cured foie gras onigiri (Akita Komachi rice, sake, red miso, foie gras, sugar, mushroom, ma-kombu, gari (pickled ginger), takuan-zuke (pickled daikon), hijiki (brown seaweed))
  4. Danny Yip, The Chairman: Smoked char siu, Chinese rose sugar & Sichuan stem mustard pickles onigiri (Taiwanese Koshihikari rice, clam broth, BBQ pork, rose sugar, Sichuan and Chiuchow pickles, sesame)
  5. Vicky Lau, Tate Dining Room: Mapo tofu onigiri (Shimane rice, beef, tofu, broad bean chilli, fermented black bean, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, ginger, Sichuan peppercorn, spring onion)
  6. Vincent Ladislao, Sake Central: Hokkaido pork belly "Ascolana" onigiri (Miyagi Hitomebore rice, Hokkaido pork belly, Sicilian olive, panko, nori, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, black pepper, olive oil)
  7. Ricardo Chaneton, Mono: organic chicken, avocado, jicama, annatto, kiwicha seeds
  8. Ferran Tadeo, La Rambla: Jamón Ibericó onigiri (Koshihikari rice, onion, carrot, leek, celery, white mushroom, chive, Ibericó ham 100% Bellota)
  9. Peggy Chan, Grassroots Initiatives: Spicy jackfruit mayo in brown rice onigiri (Hokkaido Hakucho brown rice, jackfruit, cashews, tamari, red miso, Sriracha, gochujang, sesame, nori
  10. Maxime Gilbert, Écriture: Veal XO onigiri (Niigata Akidawara rice, veal stock, rice vinegar, soy sauce, onions, pollen, hazelnut, buckwheat, veal intestine)
  11. Agustin Balbi, Ando: Ama ebi, shiso mayo & furikake onigiri (Hokkaido Yumepirika rice, cooked shrimp, mayo, shiso, soy sauce, onion, chives, togarashi, seaweed)
  12. Matt Abergel, Ronin: Unagi onigiri (Haenuki rice, local freshwater eel, kinome, sansho, cucumber)
  13. Yohei Yamamoto, Wagyumafia: Pickled plum "umeboshi" with sweet soy dry bonito in shiso paste onigiri (rice, salted plum, bonito flakes, mirin, soy sauce, shiso, seaweed, salt)

See also: Hong Kong Restaurant News: Pane E Latte & Bentori Now Open, Afternoon Tea At Tiffin Lounge, And More