The Best Thing I Ate All Week: Odango Cakes at Yuwa

To traditional mochi, I say bean there, done that.

At my grandmother’s house, we always have rice. It’s tradition. Even on the western-est of holidays, like Thanksgiving, the rice cooker sits on the table comfortably between the turkey and mashed potatoes. There’s always soy sauce. There’s always seaweed. On special occasions, there’s mochi—a sweet dessert traditionally made with rice and filled with red bean paste—and without fail, I select one of those adorable little softies and take a bite.

And always, I give the rest of it to my dad.

I want to like mochi. I think it looks like art and feels like clouds. But there’s something about the traditional flavours that I’m not super into—though I do try a bite a couple of times a year just to make sure. It’s a frustration of mine that I assumed would never be resolved, like my inability to do a cartwheel or drive a standard.

Then, Yuwa announced their new Odango cakes. The cakes were created by confectioner Saki Fukuda, who joined the Yuwa team last summer. They’re based on hishi mochi, a square, tri-coloured dessert traditionally made for Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day), which takes place on the 3rd of March. The three colours are more than aesthetic: the pink is a symbol of good health, the white of unmelted snow, and the green of springtime. The folks at Yuwa decided to give the rectangular cake a fresh look—and some fresh flavours, too, says Iori Kataoka, co-owner. The pink, white, and green layered cake became three separate Odango cakes flavoured with peach, cream cheese, and green tea.

It was the dessert I didn’t know I needed. The Odango cakes had everything I like about traditional mochi (the texture, the sweetness, the adorableness) in original flavours. They’re sweet, fresh bites that wouldn’t push you over the edge even if you’d just had an embarrassingly large meal.

I’ve never said no to mochi, even the kind I don’t like. But I’d happily eat these Odango cakes like popcorn if I could. The cakes first rolled out on Hinamatsuri, which was this Tuesday, and they’re available for all of March—no one says Girls’ Day can’t be a month long. Tradition can always use a little twist.

Who run the world? Odango-fueled girls.

Odango Cakes and Hana-Gasane Wagashi, $7

Yuwa Japanese Cuisine
Available until March 31