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Omusubi, Japanese rice balls with different fillings wrapped in dried seaweed, is the specialty at Main Street's Sunny Blue restaurant. They also have frozen yogurt. (photo by Michael Ryan)

It is nice live in a place where dining is not limited to a Red Lobster, TGI Fridays, Applebee’s or whatever is down by the local mini-mall. One great thing about Santa Monica is the diversity of its storefronts, boutiques, and restaurants. A bike ride down Main Street is the best way to see that the big franchises are for the most part kept at bay and the small specialty shops have more of a presence.

Word of mouth is what brought me to Sunny Blue, a tiny little shop just south of Ocean Park Boulevard on Main Street. The spot is so small it is easy to pass right by without noticing it, as I did twice. Upon entering, it is clear that Sunny Blue is unique in more ways than one.

Sunny Blue prides itself in being the first and only Omusubi store in Southern California.

Omusubi are Japanese rice balls with different fillings inside wrapped in dried seaweed (nori). Omusubi are as common in Japan as sandwiches are here in the states. Omusubi can be found at Japanese supermarkets and specialty stores, but you will be hard pressed to find a place that will make them fresh to order like Sunny Blue.  

Some of the more popular menu items are the miso beef (beef, caramelized onions cooked in a miso sauce) and the spicy salmon (cured salmon with chili seasoning.) They also offer vegan varieties like miso mushroom (king oyster mushrooms, tofu, green peas, and carrots). Go even healthier by opting for brown rice too.

Ranging from $2 to $3.50 it is easy to get your fill at a very low cost. Plus, to sweeten the deal Sunny Blue has frozen yogurt with a variety of Japanese toppings like yuzu (Japanese citrus), red beans, mochi, and of course Pocky sticks. Complimentary barley tea is another perk to wash down all the goodness at this hidden gem.

The sky is the limit when picking a place to eat on Main Street, but Sunny Blue is a great place to show off your local dining savvy to an out-of-towner. It is inexpensive, it is authentic, and most importantly, it is really good!

Along with Koo’s $1 sweet rice pancake cart in K-Town, Leo’s taco truck on Venice Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, and Diddy Riese Cookies ice cream sandwiches in Westwood, Sunny Blue’s omusubi is now on my short list of great places to grab a snack and or entire meal.

If you go

Sunny Blue

2728 Main St.

Santa Monica, Calif.

90405

(310) 399-9030

http://sunnyblueinc.com/

Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike burning calories so he can eat more food, or on CityTV hosting his own show, "Tour de Feast." To reach him visit his website at tourdefeast.net or follow him on Twitter @TourDeFeastSM.