Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Uchi Cafe Sweets Mochi Puyo
One of the great things about doing this blog while actually living in Japan (as opposed to buying imports) is that Japanese people will recommend or give things to you that you may not bother to sample for yourself. I learned about this pastry secondhand via my husband, who was given one as part of a little "party" at the end of the year that his last student of 2010 "threw" for him. Of course, I don't know if you can call a small bottle of some champagne-like substance and a couple of mochi ball sweets a real party, but it was the thought that counted.
My husband is not the greatest fan of Japanese sweets, so when he tells me he has tried something like this and likes it enough to buy it again, there's a good chance it's going to be pretty darn dandy. The "Uchi Cafe" line of sweets can only be purchased at Lawson's. There are three types of Lawson's convenience stores in Japan: Lawson 100, Natrual Lawson's, and just plain old Lawson's. We found this for 150 yen at the last type and I don't know if you can get them at any of the others, but I doubt it.
Note that, though this is a Lawson's brand, it is made by Yamazaki Pan. I've done a few reviews of Yamazaki Pan sweets and had an indifferent response to those treats, but the truth is that they make some of the best pastries in Japan, particularly when you're looking at anything which is made with cream or custard. If you ever see a Yamazaki Pan package which contains two disks of chocolate cake with whipped cream between them, buy it and enjoy the goodness. It's one of my favorites, but it's also a calorie bomb that you can't indulge in often if you want to look good in your Speedos.
Each little pastry is about 6.5 cm/255 in. in diameter and 155 calories. The top ingredient is "milk flour paste, followed by shortening then eggs, and flour. Though "mochi" is pounded rice cake, rice is nowhere to be found in this. This isn't really mochi so much as a dough which bakes up with the chewy properties of mochi. I also find it odd that no sweetening agent is in the top ingredients yet these aren't low calorie and are sweet. I think the calories are coming from the heavy carbohydrate load and the sweetness from some sort of lactose configuration (but I can't know for certain).
When you open the package, the cakes smell like vanilla custard. For the cutaway picture, it was hard to cut through with a knife because it is as tough as real mochi. The outside is slightly chewy and the custard inside is slightly thin, smooth and creamy. The two textures make for an interesting contrast. The outer mochi-like cake doesn't have a strong flavor, but it does have a baked good sense and even tastes a little like rice. A Japanese person who reviewed this said they thought the outer shell was salty, but I didn't pick that up at all. The white custard has a nice rice eggy flavor along with solid sweetness levels.
I really liked this and would definitely buy it again. It's one of those all too rare treats which balances a very Japanese element (mochi) with a very European one (custard) that makes it unique and delicious. Unless you aren't a fan of chewy bread products, you will want to try this.