Puchimaru (Assorted Mochi Cake) by Aji Ichiban

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 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.

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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 –

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Puchimaru (Assorted Mochi Cakes) were man­u­fac­tured in Taiwan, and pur­chased in Hong Kong in 2015.