I’ve written about Mochi before – both the regular and mochi ice cream types – so I’m familiar with these curious little treats from Asia. While there are pockets of mochi appreciation in Canada, I can’t say they’ve entered the point of mass awareness outside of the Asian community. Unlike bubble tea, they’re still a relatively well-kept secret.
And yet there’s a stand-up portable freezer unit in my local Safeway that stocks four different flavours of My/Mo non-dairy frozen mochi. What a wonderful mix of confusion and joy to see these in a regular suburban Canadian grocery store instead of having to venture to a specialty shop like T&T.
Aside: Quick recap for the uninitiated
Mochi are little balls of sticky, chewy rice dough wrapped around a filling. Standard mochi are filled with things like red bean paste, and are not frozen. Mochi ice cream is the wild-child branch of mochi, with the same rice dough shell covering a frozen ball of ice cream inside. The soft mochi shell tastes like sweet (and fairly neutral) rice, and the texture is chewy and gummy. The ice cream inside’s flavour and texture are a sharp contrast to the mochi shell. It works because it’s such a novel pleasure to chew on. There’s nothing else like it.
And now back to the review …
There are four flavours available in the freezer. And of course I’m going to sample all four because I’m nothing if not thorough.
Chocolate: Gummy shell with a basic chocolate ice cream taste. The chocolate flavour is dark and strong enough that I wouldn’t instantly know this was non-dairy if I tasted it. But that’s also because the shell is sweet and distracting. The filling isn’t as sweet as you’d think, which is a good thing.
Strawberry: Lots of fresh strawberry in here. Again, the filling is creamy and rich, and I wouldn’t instantly pick this out as non-dairy. It’s also sweet, but it lacks enough tartness to counter it. The rice paste flavour is strange when paired with the strawberry, but it still mostly works.
Vanilla: The runt of the litter. It doesn’t taste as much like ice cream as the chocolate and strawberry flavours. Instead, the rice is more dominant. There’s something vaguely chemical about the first few moments in the mouth as it melts. My least favourite.
Salted Caramel: Intensely sweet caramel and toffee as soon as you bite into it, and the intensity lasts as the filling melts away. The dough on mine was a bit thicker than it needed to be, and it starts to taste a bit odd once the filling is gone. Because of the sweetness, one is plenty.
Price: $1.99 per mochi at Safeway in Edmonton.
Value for Money: Not great? But there’s a price break if you buy six. Then it’s $1.69 per mochi. Somewhat better, but still, when you think you can usually get an entire tub of premium ice cream (or non-dairy substitute) for less than $6 on sale, the mochi price seems a bit much.
Availability: Very limited. I was surprised to find these at all, as mochi still isn’t really a mainstream thing here. Other brands are available at T&T and no doubt at other Asian specialty stores.
Nutrition: 100 calories per mochi ball, says this website.
Verdict: Quirky, fun and worth sharing with someone, if only to introduce them to mochi. The price isn’t great and the rice dough wrapper isn’t the best I’ve had, but I’m hoping people will try these and start exploring mochi from other venues.