Japanese Snack Food Review: Maeda-en Mochi Ice Cream (vanilla)

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Third time’s the charm! Or at least all I’m willing to rebuy these puppies. See, the first venture into mochi, Badmovie said his wife likes to keep them frozen but that they didn’t necessarily need to be kept that way and it was true for the mochi he had for us to try. That was a bean paste mochi. So I picked up some freezer mochi (apparently missing the whole “ice cream” aspect of them) and stuck them in the fridge to thaw so I could taste them better.

You can imagine my surprise when I pulled out my thawed mochi and discovered that yes, Virginia, there are freezer only mochi. I did throw them back into their natural element but as anyone can attest, ice cream just doesn’t taste right when it has thawed and refrozen. I ate them anyway but also looked forward to when I could retest them fresh.

Eventually I bought another pack and stuffed them in the freezer immediately upon reaching home (usin’ the noggin!) but then there was a couple other JSFRs in the wings and this and that and before I knew it, the second mochi had been in the freezer for quite a while. Quite a long while. Long enough for me to realize that mochi also have a shelf life. As anyone can attest, freezer burnt anything just doesn’t taste right. I ate them anyway but also looked forward to when I could retest them fresh.

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(Yes, yes indeed. The deeper the better)

That time, my JSFR minions, is today! (well, technically it’s tomorrow as I am post dating this by one day but whatever) While shopping for the big Q shindig on Saturday I picked up a package of vanilla mochi, again, and stuffed it in the freezer immediately upon reaching home, again, and I made sure to test it for that weekend, which meant at least waiting no more than 4 days as I really don’t like to post date too far along.

Enough back story! What is mochi? Fortunately, I’ve done the non frozen mochi before so you can take a peek at it here or here in the non ice cream form but basically, it’s stuffed rice paste balls (the rice paste being the outer coating). Today’s mochi is stuffed with ice cream. Let’s dwell on that for a moment, shall we? First off, the mochi take very little time to melt once you have them out of the freezer. Say the amount of time it may take someone to set up a lap top, get a camera, dink with the camera, noodle with the test subject, noodle with the camera and finally take a picture of it. You know, if you happen to be taking a picture of mochi. OK, so maybe it was 10 minutes, and maybe it’s a tad warm in the house (being summer and all) but it sure did seem like an awfully short time before they started going alarmingly gooshy. Not squirty gooshy but definitely gooey gooshy.

So, this fact would nix ice cream mochi as being something you could put out for casual eats at a get together. Like popsicles, it’s a planned snack. “Anybody want some mochi? I’m going to the freezer.” I really do not dig the bitemperate nature of mochi because, unlike popsicles which either have to be in the freezer or all over the counter, mochi can sometimes be a counter creature and sometimes be a freezer creature yet the two sub species look very much like the same thing. Freezer mochi sit in formed containers which give them a more rounded trapezoidal shape, while counter mochi are more blobulary free form but both look like googy powder dusted stress balls.

As for the ice cream taste and texture, I’d give them a very average rating for both. It’s no Haagen-Dazs or gelato but it does serve the ice cream function. The texture actually reminded me of those generic individual cup ice creams you can get with the snazzy wooden paddlet; slightly smooth with a little bit of grainy around the edges. The taste was a bit more vocal in the vanilla department than the cups (a plus factor there. Those vanilla cups can be a bit bland) which I approved of.

That leaves us with the rice paste coating. Do you want to know what happens when you freeze something with the texture of plushie finger Jell-o and the stretchiness of taffy? It gets weird. First off, it will get a little more rubbery (less mooshy) and change up slightly from plushie to velveteen in texture. That’s not so bad, but once you get it into your mouth and it begins to heat up it goes all moodgie like its counter cousin, which in theory wouldn’t be too bad if there still wasn’t a ball of solid frozen ice cream in the center. That’s a very strange experience to have the melting elasticizing rice paste rolling around in your mouth and a blob of solidly frozen ice cream keeping it company. I can’t say it’s a good experience, although it’s not exactly a horrid experience either. Unexpected and unnerving come to mind as good descriptive adjectives.

I really want to like these because they have the fun weirdness of the rice paste with the added tasty bonus of ice cream and come on. Ice cream! How can you not give pea points to something with ice cream? Heck, Puchi Pasuteru got pea points for being little chocolate ice cream cones and they sucked the mighty suckage in every other conceivable area…how can you not love ice cream? And gooey fun rice paste? Yet I have to say that this is the third, and freshest, package of ice cream mochi I’ve tasted and they still taste like I want to wait for the fourth package to see if they get better. I’m not going to say that they are horrid, in fact if you can get past my two big picks: The frozen rice paste/frozen ice cream texture differences and the fact that some mochi are counter mochi while others are freezer mochi which makes me have to think and one should not have to think when snacking, then you probably will like these just fine.

I, on the other hand, have to go with an average rating knocked down a half pea for texture and dual regional requirements for a total

Rating

of 2.5 Wasabi Peas out of a possible 5.

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