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Jun 29, 2001 08:58 PM

Mochi ice cream at TJs

  • m

A new thing to add to my list of grocery staples at Trader Joe's. Mochi ice cream, 6 pieces to a pack, for $2.89.

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  1. Ooh, it's great to hear that TJ's has mochi ice cream. From what I've been told it's not as traditional as the softer non-frozen mochi with the bean/plum filling, but it is delicious.
    About 3 months back a coworker decided to bring some strawberry flavored ice cream mochi into work. Before long the value pack he had picked up at Costco for the office was gone, and I'm ashamed to say I believe I did a majority of the damage. I asked him where he got it and he informed me that at Costco you could get 3 boxes (w/6 mochi per box) for around 8 dollars. Apparently the company that makes this particular brand is family owned and has been around for almost a century. Before I made it to Costco he had brought another pack into work. It's tough, but somebody's got to eat it.
    There is another mochi fan I know who leaves early from work in order to get to a place in Japan town that makes it fresh in the early afternoon. I'm lucky enough to have her share it with me. The textures of the pasty interior and soft exterior (which becomes gooey then creamy inside the mouth) is an exciting treat.
    Do you have a favorite mochi?

    16 Replies
    1. re: Nancy Reyes

      A store in San Francisco's Japantown that sells fresh mochi pastries is Benkyodo Coffee Shop, 1747 Buchanon. They have a variety: filled with red bean or white bean: with soy flour dusted on the exterior; white or green (don't know why it is green) rice flour exterior. They are about $.75 each, fun and sweet (but not enough to send the sugar monitor spiralling). Here is a link to a fabulous mochi pastry shop (NY, London, Japan, but not here in SF) that shows the beauty and vast array of mochi. Do chowhounds have any other favorite places to buy fresh mochi?

      Link: http://www.kitchoan.com/E/index.html

      1. re: elise h
        Andrew Raskin

        You can make your own, from mochi rice (sold at Japanese supermarkets), but it's a big deal. When I was a student in Japan, I did a homestay for a couple weeks over New Year's with a family in Beppu, an city in Kyushu known its hot springs. The family had a spring in its backyard, and it was hot enough when covered to steam the rice over it. Once the rice was steamed, we placed it in a heavy stone bowl, a big mortar. Then three other guys and I grabbed large wooden mallets and stood around the bowl (one at 12:00, one at 3, one at 6 one at 9). We pounded the mochi in rapid succession, first the 12 guy, then the 3 guy, then 6, etc, for about an hour. It was almost like a dance. The process is called mochi-tsuki. In addition to filling them with bean paste for sweets, we also put the mochi into a clear broth soup called ozoni (traditional at New Years) which was one of my favorite things I ever had in Japan. Only thing is you have to be careful not to choke on the mochi. I think every year a couple people -- usually old people -- die from mochi choking. So be careful!

        1. re: Andrew Raskin

          Self-contained mochi machines are available, which steam and pound the rice into mochi for you. Also good for making other types of dough, according to the blurb.

          The brute force method of making mochi with giant mallets in a huge stone mortar is nowadays reserved for special occasions, when the family gets together, and doesn't work well in small apartments.

          Link: http://www.appliances.com/nationalsdm...

          Image: http://www.appliances.com/nationalsdm...

          1. re: ironmom
            Andrew Raskin

            The machine sure looks convenient.

            In case anyone has a really big apartment or a backyard and still wants to go with the traditional approach, here's a link. The page is in Japanese, but there are good pictures with English explanations.

            Link: http://www.powerlabo.com/oe/contents/...

            Image: http://www.powerlabo.com/oe/image/ma0...

            1. re: Andrew Raskin

              andrew, wow! what a great site! it was just as i pictured it would be from the descriptions on the board. and no, i can't imagine one of them pounding in my back yard on new years morning! i must confess that this is not one of my beloved tastes, but obviously i'll be trying it with new eyes in the future, thanks

              ps how was your dinner last night and did anyone join you?

              1. re: Rochelle
                Andrew Raskin

                I think you saw the post about Tekka being closed, so you probably figured out that I didn't go last night (no wonder they weren't answering the phone!). I'm going to work on an alternative and I'll post about it.

            2. re: ironmom

              I live nextdoor to a Methodist church with a historically Japanese congregation (going back 100 years). My kitchen overlooks their courtyard.

              Every New Year's they're out there pounding the mochi.

              Personally, unless you have fond associations with it, I don't see the appeal of mochi -- it's bland and rubbery. Having lots of people hanging around outside my window on New Year's pounding the stuff is *not* a fond association.

              They had a mochi machine that one of their parishioners had made out of an old washing machine. They used it for years, until the parishioner died and no one could fix it any more. Now they just pound with the mallets. I think I prefer that.

              The mochi pounding ranks somewhere between teriyaki chicken dinner bazaar (least annoying) and taiko drumming practice (worst by far) on the list of drawbacks to living next to a church serving a Japanese community.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                Mike Kilgore

                I would tend to agree about the (lack of) appeal of mochi. We always have it in our ozoni soup on Jan. 1, and I can get it down to satisfy my wife's need not to offend the luck for the coming year. However, mochi wrapped ice cream is a whole different story, Ruth. Somehow it is transformed. If you haven't tried it, I recommend it. I especially like the coffee ice cream ones.

                1. re: Mike Kilgore

                  I like to keep an open mind, so on all these chowhound recommendations, I'll give the ice cream mochi a try.

                  1. re: Mike Kilgore
                    Melanie Wong

                    I was driving by TJ's the afternoon and picked up strawberry, mango and green tea flavors. But no coffee was available.

                    Oh, and the price is a little lower than I first stated, $2.69.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      But look at the ingredients list on those Mochi ice cream boxes... yech! Better to go for fresh mochi from a Japanese market/bakery.

                      1. re: dana
                        Melanie Wong

                        Yes, it's not the best ice cream nor best mochi in the world. Yet I find the combination brilliant. Such a great idea to cover ice cream with something that doesn't melt and turn it into finger food. I also like the portion control aspects, speaking as someone who really shouldn't be left alone with a pint of ice cream...

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Hi Ruth, mochi may be one of those foods that are a product of culture. I have the fondest memories of mochi. The elastic texture and chewiness make it a fun food. When I was a child, my mom would take the mochi, top it with sweet red bean paste, and steam it until the mochi was soft and the bean paste had oozed all over the top of the mochi. This was dessert and the bowl was always scraped as clean as could be. Of course, because of the sticky mochi, we scraped hard and long to get the last bit of mochi. So, for me, the love of mochi is familiarity, good associations, taste, as well as texture. You are correct that mochi by itself is somewhat bland. So are rice, potatoes, and other starches. With the right complement, however, mochi makes a meal worth looking forward to. A simple meal of mochi, pea sprouts, and chicken - that can make me smile the rest of the night. Hope you enjoy some foods in this way too! Maybe I'll come down to your place to hear the Taiko drums - I was planning to get Kodo tickets this year!

                    1. re: elise h

                      Last night I walked into the Berkeley Bowl and was immediately confronted by a new display of mochi treats (in front of the bread racks).

                      There seemed to be a wide variety, made by "Chikara Mochi" of Gardena, CA. They had mochi with both red bean and lima bean, plus things labeled "Gyuhi" and "Manju" (which may or may not be the same as the aforementioned -- I'm a mochi idiot). They also had the white, pink and green layered stuff I saw on Iron Chef just last Friday.

                      There seems to be a mochi invasion!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Just a note that you can buy very good mochi of many different types (varieties depending upon the day of the week) at New May Wah Market on Clement Street (I think it's at 8th Ave).

                  3. re: ironmom

                    Ironmon, Wow! This is interesting! Thanks so much for this mochi intelligence. However, would fresh mochi from this machine be significantly better than what you buy frozen? Also, at $175, it would take a lot of mochi to make this more economical than purchase of the finished product. In other words, some products are just better outsourced (eg bread, for most folks). What do you think?

            3. I absolutely love mochi, particularly the non-ice cream kind. My BF's mother brings me Chinese-style mochi from Taipei everytime she visits -- it's under the name Ganso and is fantastic!! Yellow bean filling, sesame filling, red bean filling, jam filling enclosed in a slightly sweet mochi dough (sometimes colored pink, orange or green or dusted with peanut powder or soybean powder)... it is soooo delicious and I can't find any places in the LA area that make this.