Fugetsu-do Sweet Shop, Little Tokyo

Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , , | Posted on 3/31/2010

Around two weeks ago, my friends and I decided to explore Little Tokyo with our taste buds. We ventured through markets and small stores, oogled at takoyaki stands, and had the opportunity to taste these adorably-crafted pieces of mochi from Fugetsu-do:

 a trio of mochi from Fugetsu-do

Fugetsu-do Sweet Shop is a family-owned, Japanese confectionery that has been around since 1903, making it the oldest business in Little Tokyo. It truly is a family affair, as owner Brian Kito is prominently in the midst of his team creating these sweet treats. With twenty-one years of mochi-making experience under his belt, Kito also pounds out newer creations, such as strawberry peanut butter mochi. It's a small, old-fashioned store that has not been remodeled in order to preserve "what his [Kito's] customers remember" and the history of Little Tokyo. On wooden shelves lie dusty fortune cookie molds, as it is claimed that Brian's grandfather is the creator of the fortune cookie. Heck, they even supply mochi to swirling yogurt shops around Los Angeles. There is no doubt that Fugetsu-do makes the best mochi in Los Angeles, but what is mochi?

Mochi is a Japanese confection that is made from pounding steamed glutinous rice. The rice used is mochigome, as it is sweet and sticky. This mochi is eaten with condiments such as manju, seaweed, and kinako. What are these foreign-to-me terms? We'll get into that a bit later...

display case at Fugetsu-do, each piece is about $1.20

Googling away the night before heading to Fugetsu-do, I came across a post about the sweet shop by Wandering Chopsticks. In a post dated almost three years ago, she blogged about the sakura mochi and noted that it is only available for during the Cherry Blossom Festival, until the end of April. I considered myself a lucky girl and snagged some sakura for the road.

tried the pink sakura mochi!

there it is!

The cherry leaf of the sakura mochi was a bit salty and the texture reminded me of betel leaf, which is used in paan supari and stuffed with a concoction of chopped areca nuts, masala, and mint. While the leaf of the paan found on the streets of India is usually paired with mint to act as a mouth freshener, the cherry leaf resembled Mediterranean dolmas. The salty exterior coupled well with the sweet, glutinous red bean interior.

 my favorite: Uguisu mochi

My favorite mochi of the three is the uguisu. According to Fugetsu-do's website, it is a "manju filled with koshi an," which is pretty much gibberish to me, as I'm not at all familiar with Japanese mochi. I did a bit of research and called Fugetsu-do back, because I just had to know. Manju refers to a type of mochi with sweet red bean paste. Sometimes manju is flavored with green tea and given a green exterior like this one; in that case, it is called matcha manju. "Koshian" is just one variety of many of red bean paste. On the outside is kinako, a roasted soy bean flour. The interior was not as sweet as some red bean pastes I have tried in other Chinese desserts and paired well with the subtle matcha flavor and kinako.

inside-out mochi, kawaii!

I don't remember the name of this mochi, but it's pretty easy to spot with the pink flower! It is an inside-out mochi; the red bean paste surrounds the white square glob of mochi. I remember picking this one solely on its looks, but it was a fair contender against the other two pieces. 

 add mochi to your Easter egg basket!

If you're not a fan of the traditional red bean-filled mochi, don't fret! There are several fruity flavors available, such as lime, strawberry, and pineapple. Also, Minty tweet-formed me that people try to achieve a Reese's PB cup effect by sandwiching the peanut butter-filled and chocolate-filled mochi. The packs of peanut butter mochi were only $4.00 for about six pieces!

I highly recommend checking out Fugetsu-do if you haven't already (probably when you're waiting in line for Daikokuya Ramen). The staff was friendly and helpful and the history behind the store is touching. This Easter, I will definitely add it to my basket... will you? Let me know!

315 E. First St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213.625.8295

Fugetsu-do Sweet Shop in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Fugetsu-Do on Urbanspoon

Comments (3)

Perfect in every way!! You make me miss home even more but it is good to read up on the new places you are finding so that when I am there, I can venture out to snag some good eats... hope your hungry cuz you have to come with. lol xoxox

BCookie: Brookie? Is that you?!

when u first saw this, i thought u were talking about the $1 mochi ice cream LOL! they sell them individually @ one of the stores! we got them 2x with lynn lin, ben, sylvia etc =D

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