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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mochi for New Year's at Maui Specialty Chocolates (a Mom-And-Pop Store)


It's a Japanese tradition to welcome in the New Year with mochi and yes, Maui Specialty Chocolates sells lots of mochi for New Year's Day.

Me? I don't need it to be New Year's to eat mochi.

I grew up enjoying the traditional azuki (red bean) kind. Our neighbor Mrs. Itamura sometimes brought some over, and the Yamasaki Store just up the road stocked it. Mochi is high on my list of comfort foods.

Even as I pen this post, I'm munching on Shirakiku's 'Monaka with mochi', a wafered delight my all-time best friend Mona pressed on me two days before Christmas. "You like mochi, see what you think about this."

Yes, I like mochi a lot.

Sooo, how did I miss the fabulous mochi at Maui Specialty Chocolates until just last week?
"Did you just start selling these?"
"Uhh no, we've been selling mochi for about 6 or 7 years now."
"Really? ... Wow!" (embarrassed)
I'm in MSC on special occasions for their chocolates: Christmas presents for family on the mainland, Valentine's Day, anytime I want to give a quality gift to a special person. But I never noticed the mochi until now. It could be because they usually sell out early. 
Photo courtesy of yelp.com
MSC sells three kinds of mochi: azuki, peanut butter and milk chocolate, and dark chocolate truffle. And they are all to-die-for. Owner Anthony Jones says that they also do plain mochi with no filling, but that definitely has to be special ordered. Call at least a day ahead for any of the mochi, to avoid disappointment.

The peanut butter and milk chocolate is the store's hottest seller, and the dark chocolate truffle is, according to Preston (Anthony's son), "a cult favorite" and gaining in popularity. Well, you can add one more member to that cult. It's definitely my favorite too (when I'm not craving the traditional azuki, that is).

This is the peanut butter and chocolate mochi supply a half hour after opening.


My mochi purchase on Christmas eve (why wait for New Year's? I reasoned) consisted of a dozen peanut butter and chocolate and another dozen dark chocolate truffle to take to Beau Joe's family party on Christmas day.

Each mochi delight is a hefty 2 oz., so I cut them in half (kitchen scissors work great on the sticky concoction) to make the mochi last.

I put it out before dinner (why not?) and conducted an informal taste test to see which one was more popular. There was an assortment of responses. Kenneth graciously agreed to a photo and a comment for this blog. "It's even!" he pronounced.

Taste tester Kenneth says the two mochis are "even".
The mochi was a hit!
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I asked Anthony about the amount of time it takes to make the mochi.
"The amount of time we spend making mochi varies a lot.  The amount of orders, day of the week and what time we wake up in the morning all determine how much mochi we make on any given day. 
We only sell our mochi on the day we make it so it is always fresh."
The mochi lasts for about three days at room temperature and it freezes well if you put it in a Ziploc bag. Anthony relates that many customers take MSC mochi with them when they travel.

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I love shopping at and supporting this mom-and-pop store. Maui Specialty Chocolates has served us for 21 years. They're invested in Maui, and their products are top-notch.

There is no other place you can get MSC mochi or chocolates -- they don't distribute to big box stores, and they don't sell via the Internet.

Maui Specialty Chocolates does keep up with the times though, with a web page, a Facebook page, credit card acceptance, and even a QR Code ID.

Keeping up with the times
But the store still retains its mom-and-pop old-island-style quality.

Witness Preston, home from college for the holidays, working the register. Listen to customers moaning "Awwww, the mochi is all gone!" an hour after opening. See the yellowed celebratory newspaper articles on the wall. And learn about how much time the hard-working Jones family invests every day to make the fresh mochi.
Celebratory newspaper clippings

Maui Specialty Chocolates is a treasure!



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Let's see -- today is Wednesday, so yes, there's still time to order your New Year's Day mochi!
(Ph. 871-1222, 180-E East Wakea Avenue, Kahului)

And if you want to see what else Maui Specialty Chocolates carries, check out the amazing variety below.


Mochi, chocolate gift packs & chocolate gift items (as of 12/28/11)
Chocolates in various packages
(as of 12/28/11)


Best wishes for a mochi-filled New Year's celebration and a Happy 2012!

Linda
(◕‿◕)
@Celebrate_Maui