Excellent | Worth a Detour
Two Ladies Kitchen
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
Mochi might not be on every eaters’ hit list on a trip to Hawaii, but if you’re going anywhere near Hilo, you can’t miss Two Ladies Kitchen.
Mochi is a jelly candy made from “gluttonous” rice. You might have had it wrapped around bon bons of ice cream, but classically it is wrapped around sweet red bean paste. This makes a very filling, whoelsome candy alternative. Sweets made from rice and beans may take a minute for our sheltered palates to comprehend, but soon we find that it’s sweet, sticky, and delicious. It’s one of the most popular desserts in Japan for a reason.
Sweet red bean has a peanut butter-like richness, but with a much less gluey texture than crushed goobers. You can experience the similarity if you try the peanut butter cup filled mochi here: sugary beans and peanut butter in one sweet bite. On certain bon bons, sweetened white beans or even lima beans are used to achieve a different texture.
Mochi is delicious enough just with the rice wrapper and bean filling, but Two Sisters adds special fillings.. The most famous involve fresh fruit. The strawberry is the the largest and most eye catching. Depending on the size of the berry, your finished bon-bon may vary, but they will all be at least two big mouthfuls of fun. The sweet, tart berry adds flavor dimension to the creamy bean and gooey rice, creating a complete handheld dessert.
Other variations include mochi that is infused with fruit flavor in the rice, filled with other sweets, like brownies. Incidentally, the excellent brownie-filled mochi proves that chocolate goes as well with red bean as it does with peanut butter. There are decorative mochi shaped like other fruit, such as peache and litchi. Don’t miss the cubes of lilkoi mochi, which capture the flavor and pucker of passionfruit in a bite of rice jelly. This gumdrop-like choice is unfilled, so it’s good for people who can’t get into the sweet bean thing.
These mochi draw long lines of locals, former locals, and Big Island savvy travelers eager for a pack to take back to the mainland. Posted signs help you negotiate regulations on traveling with mochi, warning of the embargo on taking any fresh fruit (even if it’s wrapped in rice and beans) off the island.
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