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Now through Sunday, Lei Musubi is popping up inside Tastemakers, Brookland’s still-new food incubator and event space. And damn, SPAM has never looked so fine.
Lei Musubi founder Vivien Bang is serving her take on the popular Hawaiian snack of SPAM musubi—a slab of glazed canned ham strapped to a mound of rice by a thin band of seaweed. Her souped-up version uses sticky rice, sautéed kimchi, furikake rice seasoning, caramelized SPAM, green tea sea salt nori seaweed, and an unagi drizzle sauce.
The pop-up menu also includes several flavors of Japanese rice balls (onigiri). Onigiri typically contain a couple pinches of filling in the center of a rice ball that gets cocooned inside a sheet of nori seaweed that protects hands from getting sticky.
“I recreated my childhood snack and added my own twist,” Bang says. She describes her creations as “sushi tacos” because they’re a hand-held snack.
Bang elevates her musubi and her rice balls with creative flavors and presentation, decorating them with edible flowers and microgreens from D.C.-based urban farm Little Wild Things. The name Lei Musubi refers to the flower necklaces that act as a warm welcome in Hawaii.
Lei Musubi will be selling food out of the Bullfrog Bagels stall at Tastemakers today through Friday from 2-8 p.m. and this Saturday and Sunday from 3-8 p.m.
Tonight’s flavors ($6 each) are:
The OG: Sticky rice, Sautéed country style kimchi, Housemade furikake (rice seasoning), Caramelized Hawaiian SPAM, Green tea sea salted nori, Unagi Sauce drizzle
Curry Chicken: Sticky rice, Curry organic chicken, Housemade furikake, Green tea sea salted nori, Sriracha mayo drizzle
Korean BBQ: Sticky rice, Over night marinated Korean BBQ beef, furikake, Green tea sea salted nori, Unagi Sauce drizzle
Thursday through Sunday, Bang says she’ll swap out the curry chicken flavor for a salmon poke variety with sticky rice, salmon poke, furikake, green tea sea salted nori, and an unagi drizzle (also $6).
Lei Musubi is based out of Virginia and Bang says she’s looking to land a more permanent presence in the District starting with more pop-ups and setting up shops at farmers markets.
If you want to wash down your fancy musubi with some cocktails, note that Tastemakers boasts its own bar.
Tastemakers, 2800 10th St. NE; (202) 248-4721; tastemakersdc.com