Whole Foods of Princeton is one of five of the stores in the nation to feature a mochi ice cream bar, so The VOICE staff set about figuring out exactly what we think of the confections. Although there were dissenting opinions, the overall response can be summed up as “no way, no thanks,” though the staff acknowledges a certain distrust for the pricey Whole Foods brand and a general lack of fondness for cold foods and/or ice cream.
News Editor Tim O’Boyle explained he is not the sort of person who “will bite into a popsicle. I’ve got to savor and taste. I don’t bite.” This perhaps presaged his response to the round, rice flour paste wrapped ice cream balls that come in Easter egg colors and are usually eaten in three to four bites in the same manner as a filled puff pastry.
O’Boyle’s first response: “I think basically, they are gentrified munchkins.” Indeed, the orbs are just slightly larger in size, but identical in shape, to doughnut munchkins.
His second response: “Honestly, when I ate the first bite I knew this would be the first and last time I ever put one of these in my mouth.”
VOICE Opinions Editor, Oscar Trigueros was similarly unenthused. He said, “I like anything I put into my mouth to be warm. I’m not a cold foods fan.”
According to her Nov. 7, 2012 obituary in the Los Angeles Times, Mochi ice cream was invented by Frances Hashimoto, a businesswoman and community activist who lived in the Little Tokyo district of the city. The treat has roots in Japanese Daifuku. Hashimoto’s husband is credited with suggesting filling traditional Japanese mochi with ice cream. The idea took hold and became mass produced as a Japanese American restaurant staple starting in 1993.
Notably, the one Asian American on the VOICE staff, Jackson Thompson, expressed more affection for the confections. Moreover he was able to explain the pronunciation for the non-ice cream version of mochi is closer to moo-chee.
VOICE co-adviser, Prof. Matt Kochis, likened the dessert balls to his most familiar starting point as an American of Slovak descent, pierogis, but not in a complementary way. He eyed the cornstarch dusted exteriors–used to keep the items from sticking in their case–with suspicion. Each mouthful required lengthy, concentrated chewing to get down and brought discussion to a halt. His response, “You just want to follow it with a glass of water.”
All present noted that the colors of the mochi exteriors did not always correspond to the actual flavors, which were revealed by co-advisor, Prof. Holly Johnson, after they had been tested. Yes, pink was strawberry and white vanilla, but the green ones? Wasabi? Pesto? Lawn clippings? No, it was matcha green tea. This was one of the few flavors the group generally agreed was worth eating.
“If the only thing you brought me was a tub of the green ones, I might consider eating them again,” said Trigueros.
Mango also received slightly less hatred than the other flavors. Whereas the black sesame was described by O’Boyle saying, “I imagine it’s similar to what vape water would taste like.”
Trigueros added, “It finishes by dripping down the throat like mucus. It’s like clearing your throat.”
When asked to guess the price of a single mochi ball staffers, adamant that Whole Foods overcharges for everything, guessed from $3 to $5. The actual price is $1.50 for one and $12 for a box of 10. You can select the flavors yourself, so a box of only matcha green tea mochi is easy to come by, however, staffers indicated the price point did not fit a typical community college student’s budget.
In short: mochi = NO-chi.