June 10, 2007

Sakura-Ya [Gardena]

After unsuccessfully making the trip out to Gardena on a warm Tuesday afternoon and coincidentally always wanting to go on Tuesdays [they're closed], I finally made it out on a Sunday and although they were sold out of most things, I found even the dredges sublime.

On my second visit here, a Thursday, all of the parking was blocked off by construction (as if there were anywhere else to park along the nondescript rundown street mall that Sakura-ya calls home). We managed and I just had my SO wait in the car while I strolled up to the entrance of my favorite mochi place in all of California.

I've had two of their traditional mochi rice cakes and found both to be excellent on all counts. The flavor of the green tea glutinous rice acted as a good balance against its sweeter red bean filling while also having a melt-in-your-mouth texture that is unlike the chewy generic stuff you find at the market. On my second visit, I tried the pink mochi filled with lima bean (pictured left) and though it was a little sweet for my taste, it had that all the smoothness of a high quality mochi rice cake.

Sakuraya also offers baked mochi, manju, and other renditions of the Japanese sweets. Try the baked Iwo (pictured above), which is filled with a yellow bean paste and topped with a sprinkling of cinammon. The flavor is decidedly un-Japanese, but come in with the right expectation and you wont be sorry. The baked mochi taste like even smaller Chinese moon cake. The ocha (barely in the picture above) was a red-bean filling encased by lima beans. They also offer a variety of Japanese snacks for purchase.

Prices are very reasonable at $.95 per piece if you buy the mochi individually. If you click on the picture, you'll be able to see the price list a lot better. On both ocassions, I have found the staff to be helpful and candid in their reviews of the mochi. Everyone I've met here speaks fluent English. [June 7, 2007]

Updated July 16, 2007

It was a Sunday, just like the previous Sunday, and we wanted to go before having lunch at Spoon House, just like our previous lunch at Spoon House. And so that history could repeat itself full circle, we bought out their supply of Kiku Manju. The Kiku Manju have a fluffy baked exterior, but are filled with a layer of white mochi and another of red bean inside. Of all the times I've visited, it seems as though Sunday is the only the day they tend to carry these. But then again, maybe I just dont come early enough on weekdays.

After confirming that I have indeed tried every single mochi dessert in the store, I opted for a green mochi, which has a grassy green tea quality to it. Yoshi had to go and show me up once again by getting an entire box full of goodies.

16134 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 323-7117


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