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where can I find those ultra sticky/glutinous/stretchy chew balls that the old fellow in the film Tampopo nearly choked on

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Hi... Looking for those chokey chewy dough balls from the film Tampopo, that nearly killed the old gent (till they saved him with a vacuum hose). In the film, they looked like small bao, if I recall, but had this insane elasticity that appear to make them fun to eat. What ARE these, and can they be found in Los Angeles? Thanks!

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  1. I've never seen the film (or heard of it), but the item you are mentioned sound like it might be sesame sweet rice balls, which can be found in the frozen section of Asian grocery stores (e.g., 99 Ranch Market). The outside is soft and white, like a small snowball; the inside is a sweet black sesame filling. The consistency is soft, gummy, and elasticy. They have other variations--for instance, a sweet peanut filling instead of sesame.

    1. Tampopo a wonderful Japanese film -- most 'hounds would like it bc there are a lot of refs to food and cooking techniques. The scene with the egg yolk is pretty out there! Should still be around on DVD...

      Pamela's suggestion of sesame sweet rice balls seems on the mark.

      1. Dango?

        1. Chikara mochi. Available from your local Mitsuwa or Marukai for broiling in your toaster oven. A number of traditional Japanese noodle shops, such as Ebisu Ramen in Costa Mesa, will serve it with with soba or udon.

          It could also have been standard untoasted mochi, manju, or dango. All these items are also available at your local Mitsuwa or Marukai.

          - Chubbypanda

          http://www.chubbypanda.com

          1. Thanks for all the replies. The dango or untoasted mochi sound like the culprits, but I now realize that the dialogue of the film itself should disclose the name of these chokey balls. In the film, they are SERIOUSLY sticky and appear to be an accompaniment to the several types of noodles that the old gent is scarfing down before his daughter's return. Almost like raw pizza dough soused with super glue. Will peruse the isles of Mitsuwa soon!

            3 Replies
            1. re: silence9

              I'm sure Mitsuwa will have them.
              I used to travel to Japan on business and a client there told me that during the Mochi Festival, the news reports tally the number deaths due to choking - much like our news reports track the number of highway deaths during a holiday weekend.

              1. re: Joe O.

                Yes, exactly so. As Donald Richie puts it in his great, great essay/picture book "A Taste of Japan": "Despite all of its felicitous associations, however, mochi can be lethal . . . [particularly in ozoni [soup] . . . Newspapers in the days after this nationwide seasonal celebration contain lists of the names of those (mainly oldsters) carried off by this felicitous food."

                I noticed not only the usual mochi but also dango on sale at the still-under-renovation Mitsuwa in WLA this morning. Also at Nijiya on Sawtelle.

              2. re: silence9

                I think you'll find them as mochi, in the refrigerated section. I've known them to be broiled or boiled.

              3. If you want someone to make it for you, rather than making it yourself, Inaka, the Japanese macrobiotic restaurant on La Brea, has a mochi soup. The stuff is very chewy. I believe they also have fried mochi.

                1. It's mochi. Just plain mochi. Not dango. Not that sweetened filled stuff either. What the old man was eating was oshiruko, which is a sweetened azuki bean soup with mochi cooked in the soup. You'll be able to find these by the bagful at the Japanese markets, since it's traditionally served around the new years. If you can find a source for homemade, you should get it. But they come in thick sheets, which you cut into squares.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: E Eto

                    Hey, thanks! Happy New Year!

                  2. Mochi, eh? That's funny. (I always assumed it was whale blubber.)