If you can't leave Trader Joe's or Whole Foods without a box of Mikawaya mango ice cream mochi, then it's time you went to the source.
This year, there's special reason to make the trip: The Little Tokyo bakery and ice cream shop that pioneered the frozen treat is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Mikawaya's famous ice cream balls wrapped in chewy, sweet rice wrappers come in seven flavors, including the chocolate, strawberry and green tea you're most familiar with, but also red bean, vanilla and coffee, which you won't find anywhere else.
And now the shop has "mochilato"--mochi made with an always-changing list of gelatos, including toasted almond, plum wine, raspberry-cream, hazelnut and mint-chip. If you want a mochi-free scoop of gelato or ice cream, you can get that too.
But it's not just fusing Eastern and Western tastes. Traditionalists still flock to the bakery, which has been run by the Hashimoto clan since 1910, for confections like candy-cane-striped sauma, a simple rice-paste treat; chofu, mochi wrapped in a thin pancake; or kanoko, mochi surrounded by chestnuts and whole red beans.
There's plenty to keep everyone coming back for years to come.
Mikawaya, 118 Japanese Village Plaza, Little Tokyo; 213-624-1681 or mikawayausa.com
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