Monday, February 4, 2013

Yuki & Love Brown Sugar Mochi

Writing a blog sometimes causes you to face problems that most others don't have to think about. For instance, the name of the maker of this product is "Yuki & Love". When I tried to use the name of the company as a part of the title of the post, Blogger threw up a red flag and said that I could not pass "Go" and I would not be given my $200 (aka, it wouldn't save my post with that name).

As you can imagine, it's a bit perplexing to see how my title so offends the Blogger gods, but I actually did know what it was on about. This is one of those dumb things about computers that you don't think about until it steps up and smacks you in the face. Blogger's glove slap to my cheek was the result of using an ampersand (&) character in a title. What was worse than that was the fact that it had a digital hissy fit was that it did it on a post I'd written on a Mac, but not on a similarly named post that I'd written on a PC (yes, I'm "bi-platform", call me a pervert if you like... in fact, I'd like it if you did call me a pervert).

This is one of those "under the hood" issues that makes no sense unless you're someone who has lived on the deeper edge of the computer-using continuum, and while, I'm no geek, I have had to tussle with these problems before as part of my work in publishing textbooks. All of these letters that are showing up on your screen have various codes and such associated with them and, while it may look like an ampersand is an ampersand to our eyes, the computer begs to differ with our assessment of such things. What you're seeing isn't necessarily what is being gotten. (Yes, I solved the problem by choosing a different ampersand with a different code from the Mac's character palette. Even though they looked the same, one choked the system and the other went down nice and smooth.)

Such is the case with this "Japanese style brown sugar mochi". What I seem to be seeing is a super creamy center that is just barely failing to ooze out of it's pounded rice cake wrapping. It looks like a chocolately delight, though, of course it's actually brown sugar. What I saw on the front of the box though, was not precisely what I got. 

Opening the package and seeing the dusty little balls with a scuffed tops filled me with a sense of foreboding. Cutting one in half to reveal the dark innards further filled me with a notion that these were not going to be as good as my previous experience with the taro mochi. It resembles more closely what you'd scoop out of a cat's litter box than what is shown on the box with a sugary, creamy center.

One of the things I was extremely happy about when I tried the taro version was that the pounded-rice-cake  was soft and chewy as real Japanese mochi should be. I was very disappointed when I discovered that the brown sugar version has a fairly tough mochi casing. The thing that tends to make or break these types of treats is the texture as they are usually not incredibly sweet or intensely flavorful. Ideally, you get a multi-faceted experience in which you get the texture of the smooth, somewhat grainy center with the soft, chewy rice cake with subtle but pronounced flavors. This was slightly better after I gave it 5 seconds in the microwave, but I have to caution readers from repeating that procedure as these types of sweets get molten hot super fast and the center can burn your tongue pretty badly if you go just a few seconds too far in your irradiating.

Though the texture was disappointing, my main problem was with an odd flavor that came along with it. I think this funky taste may have came from the use of sulphered molasses (the sulphur acts as a preservative, but it does make the molasses taste different). However, I'm really not sure of the source of this taste. I only know that it greatly undermined the quality of the experience of eating this. It tasted generally fine and sufficiently "brown sugary", but that off flavor which seemed concentrated in the powdery coating on the outside was a real spoiler.

When I reviewed the "Yuki & Love" taro mochi, I lamented that I hadn't taken advantage of a sale at Ranch 99 Market to buy up other flavors while they were on sale. As luck would have it, all varieties were placed on sale for $1.50 a box and I scooped up a few more. Given how happy I was with the taro version, I had high hopes that the brown sugar version would make me as happy as brown sugar appears to have made the Rolling Stones in their song. Alas, it failed to meet my expectations.

This isn't really "bad" mochi, and it certainly was in line with the price point, but it also was  not especially "good" either. I'd call it a decidedly "meh" experience and I wouldn't buy it again. In fact, it's safe to say that I wouldn't really care to get a box for free, though I will likely slowly finish this box because it's still mochi.

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