Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mikawaya: Mochi, Gyuhi, Daifuku. Oh My!


118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall

Los Angeles, CA 90012

A couple weeks back, after a beautiful lunch at Hama Sushi, we strolled through Japan Village Plaza in seek of sweets. Mikawaya is perfectly located for buying one of many quick sweets to eat while sunning yourself in the square.

The main draw to Mikawaya is excellent mochi. Mochi, a Japanese dessert, are made from glutenous rice pounded into a paste then molded into shapes. When I think of mochi, and this may be very hakujin of me, I think of the paste wrapped around ice cream. In Japan this is also called yukimi daifuku. Daifuku is simply the slightly sweet paste wrapped around a sweeter filling, such as red bean paste or crushed melon paste. Yukimi daifuku means "snow-viewing daifuku", or mochi wrapped around ice cream and kept frozen. "Snow-viewing daifuku" is such a poetic way to specify.

Mikiwaya is known for their mochi. They get lots of rave reviews (and some pans) on Yelp. I am simply super happy I have someplace, anyplace, to buy mochi near my house.

In order, Mikawaya serves mochi, in order from left to right: vanilla, strawberry, can't remember what the yellow one was, azuki (red bean paste), green tea and chocolate.

This is a store for people with a sweet tooth. Everyone can find a treat here. The long fridge of gelatos and sorbettos is beautiful.

With a mouth watering array of fresh sounding flavors, Baskin-Robbins this is not. Not that I have anything against BR, I just love flavors that sound more exotic to my American ears.

White peach and pistachio together in one bowl sounds drool worthy this morning.

I would eat matcha green tea or raspberry separately. I love green tea ice has a certain almost lack of sweetness, so slight while that green tea flavor that sits in the back of your mouth.

Another kind of mochi. This is mochi made with yomogi, or mugwort. Daifuku mochi made with mugwort is called yomogi daifuku. So pretty.

The Mikawaya website explains that another kind of mochi, pink gyuhi, "
has a mochi type outside and and a sweetened, smooth, white bean paste inside. It is designed into different shapes to symbolize the different seasons".

The mochi we ate that day were delicious. We both shared a chocolate and I ate a green tea. It was not as gobstoppingly amazing as the mochi we ate in Tokyo, but it was the perfect taste at the perfect moment after a perfect lunch.


It's With A K said...

I've only tried mochi once and frankly, I wasn't that bowled over about it. Perhaps it was the quality of the restaurant I was dining at. I'd be willing to give it another try, the green tea in particular.

Alice said...

If you like mochi and Japanese sweets in general then you should try Minamoto Kitchoan inside the gift shop area of Mitsuwa at their Torrance or Costa Mesa locations. Prepare for some sticker shock though as they are quite pricey but IMO their creations are worth every bite. The $3/ea. dorayaki are just heavenly! It's hard to go back to regular dorayaki. Also, Mitsuwa has these special food fairs every now and then that showcase regional specialties from different parts of Japan. You can sign up for their colorful newsletters (mostly in Japanese) at their customer service counter to find out more about these events. Oh, and I love green tea too! ;)

keri said...

Although I like Mikawaya, I'm partial to Sakura-ya in Gardena. Family run, fresh-daily mochi. SO amazing...go there early and they will still be warm! Although not as much variety, what they do have is simple and wonderful. :)

Food, she thought. said...

K: I think both mochi and green tea ice cream are acquired tastes for westerners. You have to open your mind to the textural and flavor experience a little. We will try together some time.

Alice & Keri: Thank you both for the recs. Next time I am down in one of those neighborhoods for work or tennis, I will make it a point to try some Japanese sweeties from somewhere different. I understand there are some amazing Japanese restaurants in Coast Mesa and Gardena.