Sixty years after the Japanese Imperial Army crawled in retreat out of Manila, guilty pleasures from the Land of the Rising Sun thrive on in the Philippines. If we didn’t know any better, we’d say they’re back conquering us again – only this time with a host of culinary delights that continue to win over our hearts and palates.
I know you’ll say the deluge of Japanese food experience has been going on for decades now, with countless restaurants offering sashimi, ramen, teriyaki, and tempura among other foodstuff. Indeed, Japanese cuisine has penetrated not just the fast food and fine dining landscapes but even the lowly street food carts (takoyaki and Japanese cake, anyone?) and the local instant noodle industry (yakisoba and ramen bowls) as well. For better or worse, I daresay that there’s no stopping the Japanese conquest.
The Next Craze?
One of the most recent proofs of Japanese invasion of local food scene is mochi ice cream. Basically, it’s flavored mochi or Japanese rice cake balls with ice cream filling. Mochi is made from sticky rice, so it’s not that different from the local tikoy. Dredged with cornstarch, each ice cream ball combines the glutinous texture of the casing with the creamy frozen filling in the center, making this treat exquisitely delightful to the mouth.
When it comes to Japanese mochi ice cream, I always go for azuki or red beans. You’ll never go wrong with this flavor regardless of where you buy your mochi. Some of the more popular flavors include bubble gum, green tea, vanilla and, of course, purple yam.
Truth to tell, mochi ice cream is not exactly new in the Philippines. A few years ago and as far as I knew back then, the only way to taste this frozen treat was by buying a boxful at membership shopping stores. Today, however, it’s an entirely different story and in a couple more years I guess we can see this Japanese delight going mainstream — just like milk tea or salted caramel-flavored knickknacks. In the U.S., mochi ice cream became popular only in the latter half of the 1990’s.
Today, along busy hallways inside major malls, one is likely to find a cart selling mochi ice cream balls. In my case, I found Mochi Creme at SM Mall of Asia (think I also saw one in Megamall too). Generally speaking, this ice cream treat can be quite pricey compared to other frozen treats. At an average price of PhP 60.00 per piece, it’s a burden. But if you’re tired of pairing your ice cream with waffle cones, barquillos, monay or, worse, plain old plastic spoon, then mochi ice cream is definitely worth a try.