Archive for the 'Japanese' Category


Trader Joe’s mochi coconut “ice cream,” and how traditional mochi can kill you

This is a pretty great product, especially if you’re lactose intolerant. The coconut filling is creamy enough that it could be mistaken for regular ice cream, only your GI tract isn’t at the mercy of a bottle of lactase. (You get 2 of each flavor in a perfectly pre-portioned mochi wrapper.) The mango was my favorite, followed by the dark chocolate.

Speaking of which, I have never, ever understood the popularity of mochi, which is a Japanese sticky rice cake widely found throughout East Asia. It’s like chewing on a super dense, unsweet marshmallow dusted with flour. My jaw tires just thinking about it. Sometimes there’s a sweet bean paste center or some other filling, which makes it marginally more appealing.

You may have seen small mochi bits in the toppings bar at your Red Mango or Pinkberry. Mochi is a New Year’s tradition in Japan, and every year a few people–usually the elderly–choke to death on it. Which results in another (rather morbid) Japanese New Year tradition: reporting the mochi death toll.

Luckily the mochi in this product isn’t your typical mochi, but a more gelatinous and rubbery shell that’s easy to chew. For me it was just a layer standing in the way of the coconut creaminess underneath. But at least it’s a lot more palatable than the kind of mochi that doubles as a Darwinian device.


We finally try the green tea Kit Kat

Given that we’ve already posted twice about Japanese Kit Kats, it was high time that we tried one. Mr. X-sXe’s coworker must have read our minds, because he brought this back from Japan.

Inside are two individually wrapped Kit Kats. While we could see the green tea incorporated into the chocolate and wafers (see X-section photo), we both came to the same conclusion separately. It tasted overwhelmingly of white chocolate. If you really want a Kit Kat that tastes like green tea, you’re gonna have to dip this in matcha powder. Oh well.

Read our previous Japanese Kit Kat posts here:


Tiny chocolate burgers. Thank you, Japan.

A coworker brought these back from San Francisco’s Japantown. Every Burger candies are cracker “buns” sandwiching a chocolate filling. The level of detail here is something to marvel at, down to the layer of cheese (or mustard, depending how you look at it) and sesame seed-dotted bun.

The first thing I thought when I tasted this was that it reminded me of inside-out Pocky, which is a cracker stick coated in chocolate, and yes, it’s also Japanese. In fact, there’s even a men’s version with dark chocolate. Either Japanese men like their chocolate dark, or Pocky was trying to make it socially acceptable for them to munch on delicately thin crackers.

Subconsciously or not, I grabbed Five Guys for lunch today. Here’s how Every Burger sizes up next to a real burger. Just in case you were wondering.


Makoto’s shaved ice

If you’re looking for a not-incredibly-expensive place with a great chef’s menu, try Makoto in the Palisades. We got 10 decently proportioned dishes for $60, which included a seafood-heavy array of dishes that represented an interesting mix of traditional (sashimi) and modern (a scallop salad tossed in lemon dressing), but all brought the flavors of the food out without relying on “culinary copouts” like butter or bacon. (I have nothing against either, but it’s a pet peeve when restaurants rely too heavily on fats to make stuff taste good.)

Because the cooking isn’t heavy-handed at Makoto, even after 10 dishes, you don’t leave feeling sick. This grape-Grand Marnier shaved ice was the perfect ending to the meal.


4822 MacArthur Boulevard Northwest
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 298-6866


19 Kit Kat flavors only available in Japan or on eBay.

Kit Kat is Japan’s #1 candy. They’re doing 19 limited-edition flavors that vary by region, so the Kit Kats have become souvenirs. And a cross-promotion with the postal service means you can purchase Kit Kats there to send as good-luck charms.

Contenders for the weirdest flavors:

  • green bean
  • miso
  • soy sauce (the most popular flavor nationwide)

Here’s the article from Ad Age:

Related Pie V Cake coverage of Japanese confections: