Nice stuff @Chowseeker1999
How are these compared to Fugetsu-Do peanut butter mochi?
You knocked this out of the ballpark, @Chowseeker1999! Maybe the best tactic is to follow your lead and buy a small sampling from each shop, so you can admire Chikara’s unparalleled artistry and revel in Sakura-Ya’s delicious wagashi (Japanese sweets).
I haven’t tried the Peanut Butter at Fugetsu-Do before LOL. I’ll put it on my list of things to do. Thanks.
Thanks. Yah, they’re only a few doors down from each other, but definitely give both a try and see which one you like more.
I swear that the Sawtelle Nijiya once had Sakura-Ya mochi a few yrs a back. I bought a pack and that they were the most delicious filled mochi I’ve ever had (so delicate, fluffy, and soft). I’ve never seen them again there. Maybe I should visit the shop itself… Great report.
Oh, okay. Just a heads up, I liked the Fugetsu-Do way more than Mikiwaya, and Fugetsu-Do is way less in price. Also, Fugetsu-Do lady wraps the boxes up so amazing. hahaha, she is like a gift wrapping ninja.
I am in South Bay sometimes so I’ll check these spots out. My Japanese side of my family loves getting manju/mochi and I don’t ever recall them saying anything about these places, despite my family living in Gardena before. haha They have always gone to Fugetsu-Do for some reason. Weird.
You probably know this already but let me blather for those who might not. The gift wrapping ninja is from the old school. Not that younger generations don’t do it (they definitely know of it), but that practice is engrained in the psyche of those who were less modernized/westernized. Presentation is so frickin’ essential etiquette in this culture that not to enhance the gift, purchase or meal - what ever - with some form of wrap is almost insulting.
My first visit to Japan as a kid took me to a whole different world. The deh-paah-toh (department stores) were a shopper’s fantasy, and still are for the most part. Far more elevated in style and service than their US counterparts, I could not believe how shoppers were truly treated as guests.
I was only concerned about the mini-amusement parks that were on the rooftops of every deh-paah-toh (de rigueur back then - far more kids pre-90s). But the whole culture of being formally greeted at the entrance, being served so politely, and having all purchases wrapped in paper emblazoned with the store logo was expected by both customer and store. The ninja-ness which the sales women would wrap these purchases was amazing.
Counters that sell nothing but furoshiki - the precious cloth that is used to wrap and tie more formal gifts and bento - were common as well.
This practice evidently goes back to the Silk Road days, to protect fragile objects on the long arduous journeys that so many goods had to make. So presenting something in the furoshiki implies that whatever is being presented to the recipient is showing honor and respect to that person.
Fugetsu-do is the oldest survivor of old school Nikkei retailers in LA. I think they’ve just carried on this wrapping tradition because that’s the way they started and that is the way it will always be. I think if they were to stop doing so, it would represent and perceived as a major change in the way they view tradition.
I would guess that the Japanese side of your family goes back at least to post-WWII. J-town was the center of all things Japanese at that time for most Nikkei, and continued to be so probably until more businesses opened around the South Bay and West LA areas that catered to those local Nikkei.
My parents would always travel from the Westside to J-Town to get their formal wagashi at Fugetsu-do. It was the long-standing provider of mochi and manju, and the label with its name (I think) provided a sense of familiarity and tradition, which was so important to a group that was still being chastised by the majority of those who continued to view them as below acceptance.
That is some nice info. My whole family says J-Town. Hahaha
MIkayawa (at least taste-wise) is totally average, IMHO. It kills me that they seem to be… EVERYWHERE (even in grocery stores in the freezer section).
Interesting. That would be cool if Nijiya carried Sakura-Ya Mochi. Definitely give their store a visit though. So good, and not too far from the Westside.
Mikawaya is available everywhere because they make their Wagashi by machine. Fugetsu-Do’s Wagashi is handmade.
Thanks for the info. I assume that also explains the diff in quality…
I don’t know when Mikawaya started making their Wagashi by machine, but I’ve always preferred Fugetsu-Do.
Speaking of Japanese pastries is anyone making Castella (Kasutera) cake in house? I’m tempted to just make it myself but I don’t have the wooden frame to bake it in. My favorite with coffee or tea!
I know Chantilly’s Cakes are amazing though! (fantastic Birthday cake)
The Torrance branch of J Sweets (the wagashi store) in the Mitsuwa shopping center often carries Castella, but it’s made in Japan and shipped over, @aaqjr @Chowseeker1999. I haven’t seen it made in-house in the Greater LA area yet. However, I do believe that the Paris Baguette chain makes their own Castella in-house. You might call one of their stores. I can’t vouch for the quality though, since it’s been almost a decade since I last shopped there.
I know I read or heard of some place making it in SoCal - just can’t remember where - sorry! I’d go with Malady’s rec.
Thanks, maybe I’ll check out Paris Baguette first!
Is that absolutely essential? I’ve never tried to make it myself, but I imagine it’s got a texture similar to a chiffon cake? In which case an angel-food pan might work well?