I first fell in love with mochi in college. At Trader Joe’s, a 10 minute drive away, there was an addictive mochi ice cream that brought me back week after week. I loved the mind-tingling coldness of each bite. I loved the sweet glutinous rice that stuck to my teeth and forced me to run for floss afterward. I even sucked up the cost of $3.99 for a box of 4 tiny pieces, which put a dent in which my minimum wage earnings as a library circ assistant. When I told my Hawaiian friend Elaine about my new obsession, she immediately said, “I’ll teach you how to make real mochi.”
Hawaiian butter mochi, most likely adapted from Filipino bibingka, is the sinful cousin of the dryer, perfectly-shaped Japanese mochi. The following Saturday, Elaine brought over with a box of mochiko, sweet rice flour. (That she hauled boxes of special mochi flour from Hawaii to Boston for school didn’t seem strange at the time.) We spent the day making batch upon batch of the most decadent mochi I had ever tasted. It had a sheen that screamed heart attack, but a taste that dared you to stop after one piece.
I haven’t found butter mochi in Shanghai yet, but the Japanese-owned Mochi Sweets has outlets all around town. They’re sold cold, and the salesgirls recommend you leave them at room temperature for 15 minutes before eating. So far, the green tea, peach, and dark chocolate are my favoritess, but the shops also have some interesting picks: sakura cherry blossom, pumpkin, and blueberry. And the pumpkin flavor always seems to be discounted for 3 rmb.
Basement, Raffles City
258 Xizang Zhonglu, near Fuzhou Lu
(other locations around Shanghai)