What is Hawaii mochi?
Hawaii mochi is very different from Japanese mochi. It’s softer, more gentle. It doesn’t have the precise, flawless look of Japanese mochi, but I find this type of mochi more happy and pleasurable ^-^
Where do you get mochi?
I have two regular go-to mochi spots on the island of Oahu. The first is Nisshodo Mochiya in Kalihi. The second is Happy Hearts Mochi. Happy Hearts Mochi doesn’t have a retail storefront. You have to go to their website, select a mochi bento/platter set and order via email (at least two business days in advance). Then you schedule a pick-up time, and pick-up at Natsunoya Tea House in Liliha. It's a lot of extra back and forth. It’s worth it.
My go-to order is:
- Round Tray #1 for bringing to local potlucks and parties (this also makes THE BEST hostess gift).
- Bento #4 when just getting something for myself. I order several of these bentos at a time and give one to grandma, one to mom/dad, one to a friend, etc.
Let's take a look inside Bento #4...
The top half of Bento #4 includes fresh Strawberry Daifuku. Fresh is the key word here. Cut open it open to reveal...
...a whole strawberry! Always big and sweet, super juicy. This is how the mochi is structured:
- Outer layer: fresh mochi, soft and chewy. This thin outer layer is called gyuhi.
- Middle layer: tsubu-an (a coarse red azuki bean paste).
- Center: one big and fat sweet strawberry!
It also includes two pieces of Peanut Butter Mochi! Super cool. Those are crushed, roasted peanuts on the top. Take a bite...
...inside you'll find a layer of tsubu-an (a coarse red azuki bean paste) wrapped around peanut butter. I love how they use salted peanut butter. A bit of salt is the key.
The bottom half of the bento features different types of haupia mochi! This pink one is the Original Haupia Mochi...
What is Haupia?
Ahh good question! Haupia is a coconut pudding/jelly. It's firmer than traditional pudding (you can cut it into pieces and it'll retain shape), but not as firm as something like jello. Haupia is a traditional Hawaiian dessert (it's served plain, cut into cubes). But you'll also find haupia incorporated into many other desserts (eg. chocolate-haupia pie, haupia ice cream, McDonald's even has a haupia hand pie, and of course, haupia mochi).
To make haupia mochi, you first make a tray of haupia, let it set and cool. Then cut into cubes and shape a piece of fresh mochi around the haupia. So delicate! I don't think I have the technical talent to make this but I am happy eating the ones from Happy Hearts Mochi ^_^
This is the Chocolate-Haupia Mochi!
It has a soft chocolate filling that’s like a cross between classic haupia and chocolate pudding (or for those familiar, the filling inside a Ted’s Bakery pie!)
There's also Hazelnut Coffee-Haupia Mochi…
...which features a classic haupia cube wrapped with hazelnut-coffee mochi! They're all wonderful and different. Don't even bother picking a favorite, you must try them all.
Happy Hearts Mochi: Insider Tips
- Unlike the mochi from Nisshodo Mochiya, the mochi from Happy Hearts MUST be kept refrigerated. The haupia fillings are soft and cool, and will melt if it gets too warm. If you're not going straight home from mochi pick-up, bring a cooler and leave it in the car.
- Make sure you receive an email confirmation before going for mochi pick-up. If they don't reply to your email, your order hasn't been prepared yet.
- I like ordering the bento/platter sets to get a variety of flavors, but if you love just one type you can order pieces a la carte. One hundred pieces of strawberry mochi? Sure!
INFO: Happy Hearts Mochi | happyheartsmochi.com
COST: Individual mochi pieces range from $3-5 each; bentos range from $20-$30; platters range from $38-$150. Price list here.
TO ORDER: Order via email: [email protected] (ordering details here). Order two days in advance. Note, only orders that receive an email confirmation will be prepared. Mochi pick-up is at: Natsunoya Tea House (1935 Makanani Drive, Honolulu).