Any mochi lovers out there? If yes, then do not miss A-Main Mochi 阿綿麻糬 on your next visit to Kaohsiung. They have a small outpost inside Liu’s Traditional Juancun Food 劉家酸菜白肉火鍋, near the Lotus lake, and also have a small shop in the Yancheng district, located in an old narrow alley taking you back in times. As the Taiwanese would say, the shop has a lot of FU, meaning feel, eh.
Nothing predestined the lady-boss 阿綿 to becoming a mochi queen, but after a blow in her young career in the clothing industry and her father passing away, she decided to come back home and care for her mom and family. With the financial burden on her shoulder, she tried to think of a business activity, which could provide for the family. Reaching in her childhood memories, she fondly reminisced of the autumn’s festival 中秋節, a time where her grandmother would bring a bag of plain mochi, from which she would grab a piece with her chopsticks and then dip it in some peanut powder.
The seed of her mochi business was planted, and despite some challenges along the way, it flourished to become a favorite among locals, and has since attracted the attention of a few televsion shows.
Good ingredients are at the heart of A-Main Mochi’s success, starting with their glutinous rice. After many headaches with the use of imported glutinous rice yielding an inconsistent product, the lady-boss and her mom conducted their own research to find the best glutinous rice and the best way to make mochis. Their investigation lead them on the east coast of Taiwan, in Taitung 臺東, where they now collaborate with a farmer growing glutinous rice exclusively for them. They are transparent with the provenance of their ingredients, primarily sourced in Taiwan, and provide all that information on their website.
The choice of flavors is kept simple with the usual suspects, namely peanut 花生, black sesame 芝麻, taro 芋頭, red beans 紅豆 and matcha 抹茶. They also have two creative mochis, one shaped like a clam with the shell made of purple glutinous rice and covered with some taro filling, and the other a red bean purple glutinous rice ball stuffed with plain glutinous rice. To offer a bit of seasonality, they also make mochis stuffed with red bean and strawberries in winter, while summer brings mangoes and litchis. The 雄好呷 book doesn’t mention it, but A-Main mochi also sells cups of panna cotta or pudding, whichever you prefer calling it by.
One mochi costs 15NT, which may sound expensive, but totally justified considering the quality of the ingredients. Glutinous rice has a distinct fragrance, which you can’t always taste when glutinous rice powder used to make mochis, but at A-Main’s you can clearly discern it as you approach the shop. Of all the flavors, I like peanut the best, a revelation since I’m more of a black sesame fan. I guess it’s because their peanut paste has this very rich comforting flavor, and is not overly sweet. However, you won’t go wrong with any of the other flavors.
The texture is also extremely soft and tender, very pleasant, but don’t wait too long to eat it or it will become as hard as a rock. On one occasion, I bought a box, and back home instead of leaving it outside as the instructions recommended, it went in the fridge, so lo-and-behold, tragedy ensued. The mochi became tough, I let them out in the ambient air, hoping that the texture would loosen up but no particles would budged. Faced with those small rocks of mochis, I tried to warm one up on a pan, but the result was horrendous. Next round of attempt, I popped one up in the mini-oven (not microwave), set the timer, left, came back, and was faced with a big blob, a sort of mochi puff. It had swollen twice its original size, which I found rather amusing , and texture-wise, it was surprisingly good, with a slightly crunchy outer layer and soft interior. If you’ve ever ordered mochi for dessert at those all-you-can-eat barbecues, or grilled mochi at the night market, you’ll know what I mean.
A-Main’s mochis are freshly (hand)made on a daily basis, without preservatives, so be warned, if you wish to buy some as gifts, make sure they’ll be consumed quickly, within two days in winter, and 12 hours during summer. With their growing popularity, they do run out of mochis, especially on week-ends, so get there early or send in a command, if you don’t want to miss out on them.
It’s been a while since my last visit at A-Main Mochi, which by the way, in correct hanyu pinyin is A-Mian (I guess I’ve now been here long enough to tolerate all the Chinglish and weird Chinese romanization), so I might soon go on a mochi rampage and get their family style mochi, a 600 grams bag of plain mochi sold with some little packages of black sesame and peanut powder, to be shared, or not .
Name: A-Main Mochi 阿綿麻糬
Additional Reviews+Photos: pixnet/kazekuma
Address: No. 198-27, Xīnyuè St, Yancheng District Kaohsiung City, 高雄市鹽埕區新樂街198-27號
Business hours: 11:00-19:00
Menu: Chinese only (give Pleco some thought）
(last updated: 2014/04/8 二)