I love mochi. I love the soft bite-sized rice cakes sprinkled on my frozen yogurt. The taste of the traditional Japanese mochi filled with red bean reminds me of my childhood – my parents would buy it all the time. And of course mochi ice cream… whether it’s green tea, mango, or strawberry, I will devour it in one bite despite the fact that I’ll get brain freeze. Yum!
So I couldn’t help myself when my friends showed me the Mango Mochi Ball at the Irvine Taiwanese bakery, J Sweet Bakery. They had tried it before at a different bakery but not at this one. We couldn’t help ourselves and each ordered one.
The size is 2-3 times larger than the traditional Japanese mochi. Also, it’s shape is closer to the dome of an airy steamed bun.
The mochi is pillowy and airy and surrounds the outer layer of the Mango Mochi Ball – which is as soft as marshmallow. When I take my first bite, it feels like I’m biting into a mango cloud! Inside the layer of the gooey rice cake is a layer of sponge cake and at the center is a mango mousse with fresh bits of mango. The overall flavor is subtle and fragrant.
Bit of advice, if you eat this, don’t pick it up with your hands – pick it up with the cellophane or the wrap it comes it because the warmth of your hands will make the mochi stick to you and it will get very messy.
If you ever need an excuse to explore downtown Los Angeles, check out the monthly Downtown Art Walk. It happens the second Thursday of every month. I know a lot of people go for the art but… I also go for the food.
Last year, hoards of food trucks made their way for the event. Recently, the food trucks haven’t been around but businesses have moved into some of the empty storefronts – businesses like Semi Sweet Bakery.
Right when you walk in, it’s brightly lit with an array of sweets behind the glass. They have several type of “ding-a-lings” which are like specialty mini Ding Dongs.
It was obvious they had a lot of sweets but what I was craving something savory. I ended up ordering a short rib empanada. They have three flavors – mushroom, beef, and short rib. I admit I was questioning myself on why I did that but the guy at the register handed me a fresh empanada – I put my nose to the bag and inhaled and all questions disappeared. I made a good choice.
The exterior was buttery and flaky. The short rib was tender and moist. It’s actually a perfect snack or something for an appetizer tray. Also, I got something sweet – a homemade Pop-Tart… um, I mean pocket tart!
Yes, a pocket tart looks like a Pop-Tart but it definitely doesn’t taste like one. The strawberry pocket tart I ordered didn’t overwhelm me with sugar. The shell was a hearty crust with strawberry preserve in the center. The glaze was subtly sweet – all the flavors worked together really well.
When I ordered, I also got a complimentary triple chip cookie that just came out of the oven. Basically, it’s a chocolate, butterscotch and potato chip cookie. There’s a slightly salty aftertaste from the potato chip that lingers after each bite.
The name of the bakery is perfectly fitting and I’m definitely looking forward to getting more treats!
Semi Sweet Bakery
105 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
I’m a big fan of Korean bakeries. The baked goods are not too sweet, the breads are airy and light, and the buttery bread just melts in your mouth. Recently, I went to Bosco Bakery in Koreatown with some friends after dinner to gorge on some almond roti cafe buns.
No, not all of those are for me. We each ordered one. This was actually the first time I actually tried the almond bun here – I was not disappointed. From the outside, it’s a perfect simple dome – no glaze, frosting, or sprinkles.
Don’t let the plan look fool you. The dome-shaped treat is filled with sweet almond slices that add great texture to the soft buttery bread.
The photo above makes me salivate every time I look at. I remember my first bite – I sank my teeth into the toasted sweet exterior into the soft bread. But I have to say my favorite bite was the second one when I actually got my first taste of the sweet slivered almonds.
The best thing about living in Los Angeles is exploring the areas around it. Just head a few hours south and you find yourself on the beaches of San Diego. Head two hours east and you end up in Palm Springs. And when you head a couple hours north, you end up in a quaint Danish town called Solvang. The town is something out of a storybook – half-timber construction shops, cobblestone streets, mom and pop shops. Oh! And a couple windmills to boot.
You’re probably asking yourself, “Why did a group of Danes set up shop in the San Ynez Valley?” The Elverhøj Museum says it began as a dream for three Danish immigrants who wanted to create a Danish colony – a church, school, and community – where Danish culture would thrive. 100 years later, Solvang still exists. By the way, Solvang means sunny field.
For me, I associate Solvang with bakeries… more specfically, the baked good I associate with Solvang are the apple turnovers.
The puffed crust is flakey and topped with granulated sugar. The center of the pastry is filled with sweet (but not overly sweet) apples. The first bite is the best because the flakes fall like confetti all over the plate. I stopped in at Mortensen’s Danish Bakery for my pastry fix.
One of the famous pastries that tourists stop for is at Solvang Restaurant. And like the sign says below – it’s the home of the famous Aebleskiver.
Aebleskivers are something between a pancake, popover, and donuts rolled into one. Some may actually call it the Danish pancake. You can sit inside and order up food and the Aebleskivers on the side or you can wait outside and get an order to go.
Aebleskivers get the round form because of a special pan that the batter is poured into. Once it’s all cooked, it looks look a pancake ball.
And here’s the photo you’ve been waiting for…. the Aebleskiver in it’s finished form. The doughy goodness is covered with a raspberry jam and powdered sugar. Tip: The key is to eat it while it’s hot while you’re walking down the streets of Solvang.
Stay tuned for part two of my trip where I tell you about my adventures at Ostrichland!