Photo by Vinni C.
Over the last few years, I began to notice mochi donuts featured all around the world. If I went to Seattle or even Vancouver, there was a store or popup dedicated just for mochi donuts. It started with shops slowly incorporating them and now you can find designated mochi donuts shops in pretty much any big city. What exactly are mochi donuts and why are they so popular? Specifically, why are they so darn addicting?! I cannot help but order at least half a dozen or a box of twelve each time I encounter these delicious pastries.
Being a huge avid fan of donuts, I was very intrigued. Made with glutinous rice flour instead of the traditional wheat flour, this provides the donut with a more light and airy texture. I find the mochi donuts to be bouncier and chewier than an old-fashioned donut which tends to more thick and heavy. I gravitated toward mochi donuts due to their unique "flower" shape as well. Mochi donuts come in all sizes but my favorite are the ones called pon de ring which are eight mini balls that make up the full donut shape. This makes it fun to break up into bite-sized pieces and pull apart like donuts holes. Depending on the flavor you get, it comes either glazed or dusted. Many places usually have a rotating menu with different flavors but you can usually find the classic matcha or chocolate flavor. If I were to keep count, I probably tried over a dozen of places for mochi donuts around the world but I will be sharing my top picks in the Bay Area as I have been to these locations frequently.
Photo by Vinni C.
My recommendations in the Bay Area:
1. Mochill (Oakland, San Francisco)
The first location opened up in San Francisco's Japantown located right next to Takoyaki Yamachan. Their daily flavors are matcha milk, chocolate, kinako (soybean flour), and cinnamon sugar but they also have special flavors like hojicha and taro if you can catch them during the season. There's always a long line for their donuts so make sure to come early before some flavors sell out. They recently opened a location in Oakland's Jingletown neighborhood. Unlike the San Francisco location, this place is for pickup only and there is no display for browsing so make sure to order online on their website or any food delivery app to place an order. Within ten minutes of placing the order, I got the notification that it was ready and was able to pick it up without any hassle. I do want to note the neighborhood was a bit sketchy and there wasn't a lot of parking so this is more of a quick grab and go. The Oakland location has more flavors and items so I would suggest this location although it is helpful to see it in person if you would like in the Japantown location. My recommendations are mango, matcha oreo, fruity pebbles, black sesame, and cookies n cream. Prices range from $2.50 - $3 per donut. They also have mochi cupcakes which I will have to come back and give that a try!
2. MoDo Donuts (Santa Clara)
Originally started in Waikiki, MoDo Donuts came over to the mainland and used to have a popup in Mitsuwa Marketplace in San Jose before finally launching their new location in Santa Clara. There used to be a long line wrapped around the market for hours just to purchase donuts so I am glad that they now have an actual store. Instead of coming in person, I would recommend reserving a box online and selecting a time that works for you to pick it up. I love how creative they are with their flavors since it ranges from classic flavors like chocolate glazed to blood orange, lilikoi, peach sugar, etc. I actually stopped by the location in Hawaii that was also located in the Mitsuwa Marketplace and those are definitely better but the ones in the U.S are delicious as well. They currently have a 15% off promotion right now so you can get half a dozen for $10.20. What a steal! MoDo rotates their flavors every week with five daily flavors and two rotational flavors. I got my eyes to try their peppermint and honeydew sugar next before the year ends. If you are located in Southern California, they also have a location in Torrance and a popup in Irvine.
3. Third Culture Bakery (Berkeley)
Who hasn't heard of Third Culture Bakery if you are in the Bay Area? Located in Berkeley, Third Culture Bakery are known for their famous Original Mochi Muffins and delicious mochi donuts. I first encountered their donuts in Boba Guys since they have a partnership with them. Once I tried one, I was hooked and is absolutely obsessed with their pastries since it features more Asian flavors like jasmine milk tea, black sesame, pandan coconut, ube, etc. All the flavors are authentic and the glaze is not too overbearing. I've been to places where flavors tend to taste more on the artificial and sugary side but I can tell that the ingredients used were high quality and fresh. They also have a pretty extensive menu for other items like mochi waffles and matcha lattes. Price ranges $3 - $4 per item. Note: they sell their Original Mochi Muffins online and ship nationwide if you are unable to visit their flagship Berkeley location. If you are local, you can also order them from any food delivery app although I prefer to visit them in person since you can actually see more flavors that are not on the app.
Photo by Vinni C.
I hope you enjoyed reading my recommendations for mochi donuts. I prefer them over the regular donuts although I have to admit that I can never say no to a Krispy Kreme chocolate glazed donut. If you are ever interested in trying mochi donuts, do not hesitate and make sure to grab a few or dozen for yourself since you will definitely be addicted to the light and springy texture.