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I love food and I love to eat, but you have probably noticed that I’m not much for sweets.  Every now and then I will take a bite or two of dessert and have an urge for ice cream or frozen yogurt.  That’s about it.

But, my lovely friend Le, gifted me with a sweet treat last time I was home and I thought they were quite special.  So when we got together this time, we took a quick trip to the place where those sweet treats were born.

Have you had the pleasure of eating one of these little round confections?

Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made out of glutinous rice pounded into a paste and molded into a shape.  This sweet version is known as Daifuku – round glutinous rice balls filled with sweet ingredients such as red bean or white bean paste.

I have eaten mochi in the past, but nothing like these handmade from Benkyodo Company.  Opened in 1906, Benkyodo was one of the original businesses in Japantown in the city of San Francisco.  The shop was forced to close during World War II, but it reopened in 1951.  They are now on the third generation of Okamura’s running this family owned and operated business.

These are the lovelies that made it home with me.

Yomogi – green (mugwort) kochi with whole red bean.

Kinako – mochi with red bean paste and sprinkled with soybean powder.  As you can see this one is with a red bean paste, rather than whole beans, as in the yomogi above.

Even though my experience with mochi is limited, I can taste the difference in construction and quality.  They are soft, pliable and silky.  As you bite in and chew, the smooth glutinous rice melts in your mouth.  For such a cute unimposing treat, they are  very filling!