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Help! New to Boston--Looking for Mochi, Soon Tofu, etc.

  • c

I just got to Boston this week and have really enjoyed reading the board to find some great restaurants. I'm still hoping to find a few things...

1) Japanese mochi (pounded sweet rice cakes filled with bean paste and other fillings)
2) Korean soon tofu
3) Thai street food, especially khanom krok (coconut milk & often scallions), sweet roti, and mango sticky rice
4) Great Shanghainese dishes, especially pork pump (or so it goes by in LA restaurants--basically, braised pork hock), fried yellow fish, Lion Head meatballs, Shanghai rice cakes
5) Chinese Islamic food (typically Xinjiang cuisine)
6) Really excellent frozen yogurt--I've already fallen for Boston ice cream, but I could use some good frozen yogurt every once in a while

I can't wait to start the eating!! Thanks for any advice!

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  1. You may not find satisfactory examples of all your requests in there area, but here are some possibilities:

    1. There aren't any manju shops in the greater Boston area that I know of. You may get by with some at Dado Tea.

    2. ChoCho in thge porter Exchange has a decent soon tofu; recommend trying otehr korean favourites in the area like Buk Kyung II or WuChon.

    3. Try Khao Sarn or Dok Bua. You may not see the exact same range of items. I'm very fond of the pork or beef "jerky" with sticky rice at Khao Sarn. Dok Bua has a good panel of desserts.

    4. Shanghai Gate is a little down from it's prime, but has some delicately made cold dishes. Could just be me, but the cooking seems more Huaiyang-ish to me, and slightly different from the sweeter, heavier Shanghainese at say, Mei Long Village in LA. For that style, Wing's Kitchen is a better bet, but more homey, and less refined technique-wise. Great Lion's Head.

    5. You might find some lamb hot pot at some of the Beijing-ish places in the area e.g. King Fung Garden. Also the usual suspects for Sichaun restaurants do usually offer cumin lamb. But that's probably about it.

    6. Try Cafe Podima for frozen yogurt. I like to ask for double pistacchio.

    I would considering trying some of the Portuguese and Brazilian offerings in the area if you haven't had them.

    1. Daifuku (the soft mochi with an - azuki bean filling) is only available pre-packaged (frozen or not) at Japanese food stores, including Kotobukiya (Porter Square in Cambridge), Yoshinoya (Prospect St off Central Square, Cambridge), and Reliable Market in Union Square, Somerville (Korean food store, but with lots of Japanese foods). Actual sheets of mochi are available only right before New Years at Yoshinoya. I used to buy 10 sheets per year, to cut up and freeze, until I bought a mochi-maker - great investment.

      Although they don't use any mochi for their confections, the Japonais Bakery in Brookline makes wonderful pan and cake products. I actually have never been to their main shop, but they have a kiosk in Porter Square. I buy a half-dozen an-pan every time I pass by, but my all time super-favorite is their azuki-cream, which is in a Pâte à Choux puff - basically, a cream puff with azuki paste added.

      12 Replies
      1. re: applehome

        I had the Japonaise Adzuki cream puff for the first time yesterday. All I can say is wow. That was excellent.

        1. re: StriperGuy

          I love those... don;t eat 'em too often though.

          Great deal... $2 for death by whipped cream + azuki

          1. re: PhotoGeek

            Try some of the sandwiches at the main branch. Quite nice too! Has any had their onigiri (rice balls)?

            1. re: Limster

              I love their onigiri. Much more filled than some of the mass-prepared ones I find in some of the Asian groceries, fresh, moist rice. I especially like their spicy tuna...

              1. re: galleygirl

                Second the onigiri rec at Japonaise, and I like the ones at Kotobukiya in "Porter Sq Exchange as well. Also love the chicken cutlet and potato croquette sandwiches; they're the only place in Boston that sells it.
                The ham and cheese pastries are really good too, as is the cream puffs.

              2. re: Limster

                Oh yeah, those onigiri are great. I could live off them. And wish those were available at more places.. the ones at Kotobukiya are not nearly as good as Japonaise's....and the spicy tuna ones are the best. YUM!

          2. re: applehome

            Thanks so much for the information. I'll definitely make a run to Japonais for the azuki cream puff. I recently bought a mochi maker myself, but I haven't had time to use it yet. Do you have a recommendation for places to get azuki paste and other ingredients in Boston?

            1. re: christopher

              Kotobukiya supermarket in the Porter Sq Exchange, Cambridge has azuki paste, as does the Super88 in Allston. Not too sure if Yoshinoya on Prospect St in Cambridge stocks it.

              1. re: christopher

                All the places I mentioned have azuki beans. They also carry the glutinous rice for the mochi maker (as well as many brands of cal-rose, including the premium ones). I haven't been to a Super 88 yet, so I don't know how much specifically Japanese food they have. Many of the chinese and SE asian markets don't have a full compliment of Japanese goods. I've been going to Yoshinoya since the 1960's and Reliable Market since the 80's and my mother was friends with the people that opened up Kotobukiya - all of them carry most things traditionally Japanese.

                1. re: applehome

                  If you mean the Yoshinoya on Prospect St in Cambridge, didn't they close down a few months ago? Disappointing since I work nearby, but I find I almost have to run to Kotobukiya and Lotte for some stuff. Reliable would be nice, but less accessible for me.

                  For some items, they will carry in the larger Chinese markets like many of the sauces (soy, mirin, ponzu, kewpie, etc), regular or sweet rice (glutinous rice), and pre-packaged foods like miso, kamaboko, udon or soba noodles, or even daifuku. Some items used common also in other Asian cuisines are readily available, but how comparable they are to ones used in Japanese cuisine I can't say (i.e., red beans, mushrooms, certain veggies, tofu, etc.). But when I have to buy bulk items (i.e., large bags of rice) they are actually cheaper in the Chinese grocery stores if they carry the same brand.

                  1. re: kobuta

                    Um, well yeah. This kind of thing can happen when you respond to a thread from 2005.

              2. re: applehome

                The Cherry Mart on Newbury near Mass Ave carries pre-packaged mochi, as well.

              3. Mochi: in addition to the Japanese/Korean groceries Applehome listed, the super88 supermarket in Allston sells packages of mochi/daifuku. They're in the open freezers together with the tofu products and kimchi jars.

                Thai sweet roti: Rod Dee on Beacon St in Brookline (just past intersection with Summit Ave) regularly has this as a "special" dessert. Also Thai donuts & mango sticky rice. Dok Bua on Harvard St in Brookline also has mango sticky rice when mangoes are in season. Alas, haven't seen khanom krok but if you do find, please post!

                Chinese Islamic doesn't exist here. Have been following the posts on the LA/California boards with interest and hope one day it'll reach us.

                1. Japanese mochi, the best is in NYC at Minamoto Kichoan. Sorry, I have never had a good mochi in Boston.

                  You can get really good tofu at Cho Cho in Porter and Oga (I think that's the name of the place) it's an excellent Japanese place that makes their own tofu. Jae's in Back Bay also has some good tofu offerings.

                  As for the roti, I love the version at Penang in Chinatown, it is so good with their curry sauce.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: esqdork

                    Thanks--completely agree with you about Minamoto Kitchoan. They also have a location in Los Angeles (Torrance, actually) in the Mitsuwa Market if you're ever there.

                    I'll have to try the roti at Penang. I'm a huge fan of roti canai (Malaysian roti), but I'm also looking for sweet Thai roti, which is a thicker dough with sweetened condensed milk inside that is usually sold on the streets in Thailand. Great stuff if you can find it!

                    1. re: christopher

                      May I suggest two alternatives if you can't make it to Rod Dee for the Thai sweet roti:
                      1) Buy a packet of 'Kawan' brand roti prata (Kashmir, the Indian grocery store in Coolidge Corner stocks it in the freezer case; many Indian grocers do). Buy a can of condensed milk (I like Carnation brand - and it's cheaper in the Asian supermarket than Shaws etc).
                      Heat the pratas one at a time in a nonstick pan (oil is optional as the prata is greasy enough) until it crisps up, drizzle with the milk, and voila - you have it! ('prata' is the Singaporean equivalent of 'canai' except it is thicker/heavier - what you're looking for - and Kawan is one of the best prepackaged brands around).

                      2) Order roti canai at Penang or Aneka Rasa (on HArvard St between Brookline and Allston), sprinkle with sugar, and order a teh tarik to go with it. That's a common breakfast in Singapore/Malaysia.

                  2. I've had really good mango with sticky rice at Thai kitchen, 2261 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. Their vegetarian delight isn't so bad either.