Mochi, the traditional Japanese sticky rice cakes, can be one of the best vehicles for holding in all sorts of goodies, from red bean paste to ice cream. Biting into these gooey, chewy rice balls, you never know what you’ll find.

During my recent trip home to Honolulu, I went looking for some creative mochi treats and I found them at Made in Hawaii Foods. While this company makes an assortment of treats – from candied popcorn to jams to sauces – it’s the mochi that brings even the locals to check out its store in the Moiliili neighborhood. (There’s also a factory outlet in Pearl City.)

Mochi filled with whole fresh strawberries and azuki bean paste

Made in Hawaii Foods’ more popular mochi is the one filled with fresh strawberries. I purchased a two-pack ($5.95) that also had some red azuki beans surrounding the strawberries, although you can also get it with traditional chocolate coating.

The local strawberries from Maui were so sweet that they were a nice complement to the semi-sweet sticky mochi skin.

Haupia and Chocolate mochi (peanut butter mochi in the background)

Also generating buzz are Made in Hawaii Foods’ cream cheese mochi, and I got a three-pack ($5.75) with liliko`i (passion fruit), haupia (coconut cream) with chocolate, and peanut butter. I’m a big fan of haupia, the coconut gelatin treat, but I think it was overpowered by the chocolate so I think next time I would get just the haupia-filled mochi.

And yes, there surely will be a next time. These interesting mochi treats, moving beyond traditional Japanese flavors and injecting Hawaiian tastes for a wider audience, will keep me coming back for more.

Made in Hawaii Foods, 2071-A S. Beretania St., Honolulu. PH: 808.947.9022. www.madeinhawaiifoods.com

Liliko'i (passion fruit) mochi

17 Responses to Surprising Sweets Are Inside These Mochi Balls

  1. Foodhoe says:

    Wish there was a local shop over here, that looks so good! Mmm, peanut butter and chocolate…

    • Ben Ben says:

      I know! They sell stuff online, but of course not the mochi since it has to be refrigerated. 🙁 But I was thinking, gosh, there has to be some copycats in California. I mean, mochi ice cream started in LA. So I’m going to see if there’s anything like this in Japantown in SF.

  2. julieako says:

    Ooooh how interesting! I have only had the manju with bean paste at the shop in San Jose.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Manju is always a good thing. (That’s the baked mochi for you uninitiated.) But it would be fun to try something like these in Hawaii. Let me know if you see anything similar in San Jose.

  3. agent713 says:

    Nifty! That strawberry one looks yummy!

  4. hungry dog says:

    This is fascinating. I feel like I could really spend a lot of time eating–er, studying–Hawaiian food. I am constantly finding out about something brand new to me. Whole strawberries in mochi–incredible! (though I’d like to skip the bean paste).

    • Ben Ben says:

      Yeah, I should have read the labels better and picked up the chocolate covered strawberries instead of the one with azuki bean. But it was still good!

  5. Cookie says:

    I grew up loving those frozen Mochi Balls, especially the green tea flavor. Yum!

    • Ben Ben says:

      You mean mochi ice cream? Yeah, I still like getting the green tea now and then. I just like the fact that you can find them in Safeway! Hopefully one day these will be so popular you can just buy them at the local market.

  6. I’ve never seen anything like these before but what an amazing way to use rice! Now I must find these to sample…

  7. This post is so fetish-worthy, I’ve been inspired to include it in my Friday Food Fetish blog. If you have any objections, please let me know

  8. ML says:

    Go to Benkyodo in SF Japantown,1747 Buchanan St! They make strawberry mochi when berries are in season. Blueberry too.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Yeah, I figured they’d be the place to go in San Francisco. Thing is, every time I go there, seems like they never have much on display. Am I supposed to ask for them specifically? I always feel intimidated because it doesn’t seem like a place to browse.

  9. ML says:

    If you don’t see it, they probably ran out. Best to go early. Although, one time we were the last customers of the day and they gave us the last strawberry mochi for free.

  10. Carolyn Jung says:

    I’m all over that chocolate one! I think I’d have to get three of those alone. 😉

  11. Cathy says:

    I had the strawberry, azuki bean, mochi when I lived in Hawaii several years ago. At the time you could only get them at a Farmer’s Market in Hilo, on the Big Island. I absolutely LOVE them! The bean is a sweet paste, with the fresh, juicy strawberry, and spongy mochi covering…to die for!