Mehari-zushi, the original ‘fast food’ least in Japan anyway.

When most people think of fast food, the first images to come to mind are most likely towered over by two golden arches, or a man with a white goatee and suit. Even in Japan, these motifs can be found in almost every city corner, alongside neon lights for beef bowls, and tempura dishes.
But, if you backdate to before the influence of the west saw to the introduction of the deep fryer in Japan, you might come across Japan’s oldest fast food – Mehari Zushi.

A vinegared rice ball wrapped in a pickled takana leaf, this traditional fast food is easy to find in Kansai, the region where it hails from, but finding it in Tokyo is a little more of a difficult task. Luckily, this new take-out only store in Tsukiji specialises in making the dish, so you can give it a try even in the capital.

Originating in the Kumano area of Wakayama, mehari-zushi has been enjoyed in the Kansai region for an untold amount of time. Don’t let the name fool you, as mehari-zushi lacks fish of any kind, and is infact a vegan dish. Initially created to be a big, fast lunch, mehari-zushi is actually a rice ball made from vinegared rice, and is wrapped in a pickled takana leaf.

The ‘mehari’ in the dishes name, refers to the Japanese phrase; ‘目を見張るほど大き’ (transliteration: me wo miharuhodo oki) which translates to ‘to open your eyes wide’. There are several theories regarding the origins of this name, but one of the most popular is that the dish’s original size was so large that people would have to open their mouth wide to eat it, so much so that their eyes would bulge.

The new store,めはりと鶏天みふく(Transliteration: Mehari to Chicken Ten Mifuku) specialises in mehari-zushi take out.
The owner of the store grew up in Wakayama prefecture, where their parents ran a local Kumano restaurant under the name ‘Mifuku’. With mehari-zushi being on the menu, and as a local dish of Wakayama prefecture, the owner could not forget the taste, and decided to open up their own store serving up mehari-zushi in Tokyo.

The store serves up individually packaged mehari-zushi alongside mehari-zushi bento boxes, shrimp and unagi-topped mehari-zushi and chicken tempura.

Basic mehari-zushi menu

  • Takana (mehari-zushi rice ball filled with diced takana leaf)
  • Ginger Hijiki
  • Grilled Salmon (non-vegan)
  • Chirimen Jako (non-vegan)
  • Plum Chirimen (non-vegan)
  • Mentaiko (non-vegan)

Topped mehari-zushi menu

  • Shrimp Tempura Mehari (mehari-zushi rice ball topped with shrimp tempura)
  • Shrimp Tempura Tartar topped Mehari (mehari-zushi rice ball topped with shrimp tempura and tartar of your choice from the following flavours; yuzu miso tartar, wasabi tartar, plum tartar)
  • Shrimp Tempura Mehari (mehari-zushi rice ball topped with grilled unagi and slices of egg)

めはりと鶏天みふく(Transliteration: Mehari to Chicken Ten Mifuku)
Hours:11: 00-20: 00
Location:1F Tsukiji Daicho Building, 6-21-4 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

By - Connie Sceaphierde.