Aji Ichiban is a chain in Hong Kong for snacks, ranging from chocolates and sweets to various nutty brittles and dried fruits. The chain does not originate from Japan, despite the Anglicised name and hirigana and katakana appearing in its brand name (優の良品) and packaging. Misleading, isn’t it?
They have various other locations dotted around the world. None are in Sydney though, so my forays into the snacks at Aji Ichiban are confined to what my parents bring back during their visits.
This time, it’s assorted mochi cakes called Aji Ichiban Puchimaru. Plugging it into Google translate tells me it means ‘petite round’, which is confirmed by a Google search showing small round blobs as cartoons.
Unlike Japanese mochi that wraps a paste inside a ball of chewy glutinous rice-based dough, these ‘mochi cakes’ have a cake-like exterior wrapping the chewy glutinous rice-based innards. Assorted means they come in four flavours –
Lychee Mochi Cake. If I relied on the image to tell me what flavour it was, I’d be eating a custard apple or soursop mochi cake. Ripe lychees are red, not green! Packaging aside, it certainly does taste like lychee. The mochi filling is a almost clear, and tastes much like a chewier version of the lychee jellies you get in Asian groceries. This is my favourite of the four.
Orange Mochi Cake. The image doesn’t lie in this one — it looks like an orange and it is orange flavoured! The orange flavour in the mochi is fragrant with a healthy citrus zing. There’s also bits of candied rind through the mochi, which gives it an interesting texture and bite.
Purple Rice Mochi Cake. They do away with images to indicate the flavour with this one and instead rely on text. The mochi filling is a deep purple and has an enjoyable nuttiness. This was second only to the lychee.
Green Tea Mochi cake. The mochi is a deep green colour and the green tea flavour isn’t immediately obvious. The sweetness of the cake means that the slight bitter leafy green tea sneaks in as an after thought and doesn’t linger long.
I wasn’t too impressed with these at first as I found the ‘cake’ part strange and too sweet. They do, however, grow on you after eating a couple.
These Aji IchibanPuchimaru were produced in Taiwan, and purchased in Hong Kong in 2015.