Just sharing the unboxing of a dozen Daifuku Mochi that I picked up at Chikara Mochi Japanese Sweet Shop in Gardena, California; an area of Los Angeles that is highly populated with Japanese Americans. This little tiny, unassuming Japanese Confectionery shop is located on a lonely stretch of Western Avenue, and is just a few yards away from another Japanese Confectionery Shop, Sakura-Ya. When you walk inside, you’ll find humble Japanese decor and a display case filled with a selection of fresh mochi that were crafted that morning well before the shop opened. They are so beautiful like crown jewels.
Chikara Mochi’s handcrafted Daifuku Mochi are indeed a work of art. The Anko (Sweet Red Bean Paste) and the Shiro An (Sweet White Bean Paste) have a delicate texture. My own taste palate could tell that these bean pastes were made from scratch, which involves soaking beans overnight and cooking them down for hours to break down its structure into a soft, pillowy texture. The sweetness is hardly sharp, but a gentle glow like a slow sunrise.
The gluttonous rice that surrounds the paste is a fragile, membrane-like texture. The Daifuku Mochi balls are then carefully shaped by hand and colored into apples, peaches, and citrus. Other mochi balls are merely decorated to represent the current season with intricately formed gelatin leaves, Sakura (Cherry Blossom) petals, or a dolphin that make these confections appear more whimsical.
While Daifuku Mochi is consumed during formidable occasions like celebrating holidays and Japanese cultural events, their counterparts, Wagashi Mochi (rice cakes without the sweet bean filling), are served at Japanese Tea ceremonies. For the most part, both confections make wonderful gifts to family and friends for any occasion.
Chikara Mochi Japanese Sweet Shop is among the few standing Japanese Confectioneries in the Los Angeles area. They stand along side Sakura-ya, and the oldest among them, Fugetsu-Do Sweet Shop; who, for generations, continue to practice the traditional craft of mochi-making by hand.
Chikara Mochi Japanese Sweet Shop 16180 S. Western Avenue, Gardena, CA 90247. No website. Cash only.