Oklahoma’s first onigiri-centric concept restaurant specializes in the Japanese rice ball dish.
Oni OKC, a small business based in OKC, opened in September 2021. Owner and founder Ivy Tran has evolved the business from a food preparation service to a specialty onigiri concept menu.
“We’re pretty new, so any news you’ve heard is probably just word of mouth,” Tran said.
Tran posts the menu every Thursday on Oni OKC’s Instagram, @onigiriOKC, and accepts orders via Instagram Direct Messages. The menu is updated week after week on Instagram. Tran said customers pick up their onigiri order at the start of the week and eat it throughout, a method inspired by the restaurant’s original meal prep service.
“People have gotten used to (the setup) and love the idea of having this at the start of their week,” Tran said.
Upon ordering, Tran sends the location for pickup and payment instructions, which are done through Venmo. Tran said she will be moving to a website-based ticket payment service soon.
Tran’s business started as a meal prep service with a rotating menu, moved to a specials menu, and then landed on an onigiri-centric menu. Tran introduced onigiri to his restaurant menu one week and said it was a hit.
“When I was doing these rotating menus, I had to get really creative because every week was a different menu and a completely different recipe,” Tran said. “Onigiri just exploded and I realized I was onto something.”
Besides different flavors of onigiri, Tran offers special dishes, such as japchae, a Korean noodle dish with stir-fried vegetables, and tteok-bokki, a Korean rice cake dish.
“I have rotating menu items, but the core of our brand is really the onigiri that people really, really like,” Tran said.
Tran was inspired by her boyfriend who studied abroad in Japan. She said he ate onigiri often and she was intrigued by the dish. Tran also enjoys watching cartoons and was inspired by seeing onigiri as a communal meal.
“I was so drawn to them and imagined how they would taste because they looked so fun to eat,” Tran said.
Tran had a car accident in June 2021, resulting in a broken wrist and a broken arm. Unhappy with her job at the time, she took it as a sign to pursue her dream.
“When the sinking happened, I had time to sit down and think about what I wanted, like any business idea,” Tran said. “If it wasn’t for that, I couldn’t have started this (business).”
Tran said she had never worked in the service industry and this restaurant was a brand new venture for her.
“The whole point of what I do is try to take everyone with me to do what they love to do the most, whatever it is,” Tran said.
Tran also has a pop-up with a local brewery, Lively Beerworks, and said that in the future, Oni OKC will have a food truck and potentially a restaurant.
To order from Oni OKC, follow his Instagram, @onigiriokc, for menu updates and pickup.