There is no bliss like fresh mochi.
Growing up, I would associate the gooey balls of sweet rice paste with trips to the Asian supermarket with my mom. We almost always chose Daifuku, or mochi with a sweet red bean paste filling. It was the tasty, sticky snack at the end of a family errand. So it seems appropriate that it was my mom (through impressive Internet-sifting) who found out about the Benkyodo Company.
Benkyodo has been run by the same family since 1906. After temporary closure while the family was interned during WWII, it reopened and continued to serve its signature handmade mochi daily. Its Japantown store has an unassuming exterior, tucked into a corner across the street from Peace Plaza.
My mom and I ordered at least one of everything, including the classic Daifuku. To my surprise, the strawberry mochi, in addition to being adorable and pink, had a thick slice of fresh strawberry tucked inside! All of the mochi had been made that morning – unlike prepackaged mochi, Benkyodo mochi was pillowy and warm.
Sticky and delectable, filled with sweet bean paste and sweeter childhood memories, eating mochi from Benkyodo is the closest I’ve gotten to holding happiness in the palm of my hand.
Top row: Red bean pancake, age (crispy donut with sweet red bean filling), Daifuku mochi, strawberry mochi
Bottom row: Chofu (mochi wrapped in a pancake), pink mochi with sweet lima bean filling, Daifuku, strawberry