by January 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

From Kathryn Ciano. Follow her on Twitter @katciano. Email her at  kathryn[AT]


Mochi, grill, bake or put it in your soup. (Luis Gomez Photos

Hi there, Borderstan. I’m Kat, and I’m new here. I’m pretty excited to contribute to Borderstan – you’ll see mostly talk about music, laws and their local impact, galleries and real estate coming from me.

But not today. Today we’re talking about food. Because food is one of the best things Borderstan has to offer.

Ever since a friend introduced me to mochi – frozen balls of pounded sticky rice, often filled with jelly or ice cream – in Los Angeles last year, I have been on the hunt for the sweet treat in DC.

As a topping, mochi is pretty common; Mr. Yogato and Yogenfruz regularly offer mochi balls as a soft serve topping. And while mochi topping is delicious, my mission is more specific. I’m looking for doughy mochi pockets, filled with ice cream and frozen into balls.

Free-standing ice-cream-filled mochi is hard to come by in DC. Trader Joe’s has it, and Whole Foods will carry it on request. Thankfully, a couple of Borderstan establishments also sell mochi.

Where to find mochi in Borderstan:

  • Hana’s Japanese Market (2000 17th Street NW). Hana’s is one of those perfect ethnic shops you find out in the wilds of northern Virginia, but that tends too often to get priced out of DC. The shopkeepers are sweet and are there to please. When I went inquiring about mochi, two employees wound up helping me, rapidly speaking in Japanese as I dug through the freezer shelves. In addition to mochi, Hana’s has kimchi, seaweed for wrapping sushi (for sale much cheaper than at Yes! Organic Market), and more sauces, snacks, produce and cuts of meat than I can identify.
  • Mr. Yogato (1515 17th Street NW). Mr. Yogato carries just mochi the topping – pencil-eraser sized rice cake balls with a consistency just a little denser than the tapioca balls in boba tea. Tart yogurt is my favorite, but this spot carries a number of unique flavors, including watermelon and salted caramel (“scotamel”). Mr. Yogato is such a cool place it’s worth a visit even if you’re not into mochi. You can play trivia games to get discounts. Or let them stamp your forehead (“Mr. Yogato stamped me!!”) and get a discount.
  • Lovely Yogurt (1017 U Street NW). This is the place to go for a choice of dairy or vegan yogurt varieties. Mochi here is the same topping variety Mr. Yogato carries – try it on Lovely’s New York cheesecake yogurt.
  • Trader Joe’s (1101 25th Street NW). Okay, this one’s not Borderstan, but TJ’s still needs a mention on any mochi list. TJ’s mochi is like Hana’s – ice cream-stuffed rice balls. Don’t even bother with TJ’s chocolate mochi; focus instead on the much tastier strawberry and green tea flavors. Perfect.

Hopefully I will be able to add to this list as my search continues! Email me at Kathryn[AT] or tweet @katciano if you’ve spotted any mochi I’ve missed.

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