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Mochi doughnuts from Pike Kitchen
Mochi doughnuts from Pike Kitchen
Pike Kitchen [official]

A Dozen Places to Find Delightfully Chewy Mochi Desserts Around D.C.

Glutinous rice treats appear as doughnuts and in a variety of other forms at Asian cafes, bakeries, and restaurants

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Mochi doughnuts from Pike Kitchen
| Pike Kitchen [official]

Many Americans first encounter mochi as ice cream-filled balls found in the freezer aisle of specialty markets, or on dessert menus at a variety of Asian restaurants. However, the Japanese term covers a wide range of chewy treats and savory dishes made out of glutinous rice flour. The common thread is a springy, bouncy texture Taiwanese diners call “Q” or “QQ.”

Rice dough that’s filled or topped with bean paste or powder, sesame seed paste, or crushed peanuts is a common confection in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisines. Leavened versions pop up in Vietnamese (banh bo) and Chinese (white sugar sponge cake) cuisines. There are also sweet Filipino rice cakes like sapin-sapin and kutsinta, or plain rice cake balls set served atop shaved ice or in dessert soups. Modern Asian bakeries add rice flour to all manner of traditionally Western sweets, including doughnuts, cookies, muffins, and waffles to give them that “Q” factor, or to create a more delicate crisp. This map offers a taste of classics and modern mash-ups.

Restaurants on this map may temporarily close due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, so check with a business before showing up. D.C. allows indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. Many restaurants offer outdoor seating, but this should not be taken as endorsement for dining out, as there are still safety concerns. The Washington Post is tracking coronavirus cases and deaths in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. More information can be found at coronavirus.dc.gov. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Pike Kitchen

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Fried mochi doughnuts from the bakery in this Rockville, Maryland, food hall are heavy on the rice flour with a crispy outside and a super chewy inside. They come in flavors like matcha with little green cornflakes, caramel, almond, chocolate, and Oreo.

BAMBU CAFE

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The Rockville franchise of this Vietnamese cafe offers taro- and pandan-flavored waffles made with rice and tapioca flour, which can be topped with ice cream, fruit, syrups, condensed milk, or whipped cream.

Gwenie's Pastries

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Gwenie’s Pastries, the Filipino bakery owned by Stella Fernandez, offers a wide array of ube, pandan, and coconut treats. Desserts include kutsinta, a brown, 2-inch rice cake made with tapioca flour and topped with grated coconut. Tri-layered sapin-sapin comes flavored with ube, jackfruit, and coconut. There is also biko, made with sticky rice cooked in coconut milk and brown sugar.

Queen’s English

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This chic Hong Kong-style restaurant in Columbia Heights offers a sweet glutinous rice dumpling as its main dessert. The dumpling, made by hand on-site, is covered with a contrast of salted caramel, crunchy cashews, and sesame seeds. It’s available on the a la carte takeout menu on Tock, too.

Queen’s English [official]

Hana Market

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This beloved Japanese market on U Street NW sells dango, or mochi balls covered in a soy sauce caramel. Also find red bean, sesame, chestnut, and other traditional mochi.

Teas'n You

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This local tea shop from a Vietnamese restaurant group that’s fond of innuendo sells mochi muffins and cookies in ube and pandan flavors. The muffin incorporates rice flour into the batter for a QQ experience in every bite. The mochi cookies are soft, crinkle-style cookies with a nugget of tender mochi at the center.

Rose Ave Bakery

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Mochi treats show up each week on the pre-order menu at Rosie Nguyen’s in-demand Asian-American bakery. They take the form of glazed mochi crullers or coconut mochi balls on a skewer. Rose Ave. Bakery sells out within minutes of their Sunday afternoon release, but it may be possible to pick some up as a walk-in on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Baan Siam

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Kanom krok are delicate, sweet and savory cups of rice flour filled with custardy coconut cream. They’re often topped with savory elements such as scallions, corn, taro, or pumpkin. Plain little cups are lightly crisp and more oozy than chewy. It can take a little bit of time for these to come out of the Baan Siam kitchen, but they are worth the wait.

Kanom krok, or coconut milk and rice flour pancakes, at Baan Siam are tough to make because they scorch easily
Kanom krok, or coconut milk and rice flour pancakes, at Baan Siam are tough to make because they scorch easily
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Joy Luck House

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Sesame balls are the precursor to fried mochi donuts. Often found on dim sum menus, they are also a staple in Chinese bakeries like Joy Luck House, in the heart of Chinatown. A round of rice flour dough is filled with red or mung bean paste, or lotus seed paste, deep fried, and rolled in sesame seeds. 

Infini-tea

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All kinds of foods have been shoved into waffle makers recently, from Thanksgiving stuffing to tater tots, with exciting results. Putting mochi batter into a blazing waffle iron is no different, resulting in crispy outsides and soft, chewy insides. Infini-tea offers both pandan and taro flavors.

Banh Mi DC Sandwich

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Banh bo are leavened rice flour sweets usually flavored with coconut milk. They are cooked by steaming, and have a slightly boozy flavor due to the yeast byproducts. The air pockets formed by the fermentation process make these less chewy than other rice flour-based sweets. At this trusty banh mi spot in Falls Church, find them pre wrapped in white, and pastel shades of red and green.

Breeze Bakery Cafe

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Sweet rice donuts at this Asian bakery in Annandale feature a red bean filling to accompany the crispy, chewy rice flour shell. There is also mochi anpan, a standard bun dough filled with mochi nuggets and red bean filling.

Sweet rice doughnuts with red bean filling from Breeze Bakery in Annandale
Sweet rice doughnuts with red bean filling from Breeze Bakery in Annandale
Breeze Bakery [official]

Pike Kitchen

Fried mochi doughnuts from the bakery in this Rockville, Maryland, food hall are heavy on the rice flour with a crispy outside and a super chewy inside. They come in flavors like matcha with little green cornflakes, caramel, almond, chocolate, and Oreo.

BAMBU CAFE

The Rockville franchise of this Vietnamese cafe offers taro- and pandan-flavored waffles made with rice and tapioca flour, which can be topped with ice cream, fruit, syrups, condensed milk, or whipped cream.

Gwenie's Pastries

Gwenie’s Pastries, the Filipino bakery owned by Stella Fernandez, offers a wide array of ube, pandan, and coconut treats. Desserts include kutsinta, a brown, 2-inch rice cake made with tapioca flour and topped with grated coconut. Tri-layered sapin-sapin comes flavored with ube, jackfruit, and coconut. There is also biko, made with sticky rice cooked in coconut milk and brown sugar.

Queen’s English

Queen’s English [official]

This chic Hong Kong-style restaurant in Columbia Heights offers a sweet glutinous rice dumpling as its main dessert. The dumpling, made by hand on-site, is covered with a contrast of salted caramel, crunchy cashews, and sesame seeds. It’s available on the a la carte takeout menu on Tock, too.

Queen’s English [official]

Hana Market

This beloved Japanese market on U Street NW sells dango, or mochi balls covered in a soy sauce caramel. Also find red bean, sesame, chestnut, and other traditional mochi.

Teas'n You

This local tea shop from a Vietnamese restaurant group that’s fond of innuendo sells mochi muffins and cookies in ube and pandan flavors. The muffin incorporates rice flour into the batter for a QQ experience in every bite. The mochi cookies are soft, crinkle-style cookies with a nugget of tender mochi at the center.

Rose Ave Bakery

Mochi treats show up each week on the pre-order menu at Rosie Nguyen’s in-demand Asian-American bakery. They take the form of glazed mochi crullers or coconut mochi balls on a skewer. Rose Ave. Bakery sells out within minutes of their Sunday afternoon release, but it may be possible to pick some up as a walk-in on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Baan Siam

Kanom krok, or coconut milk and rice flour pancakes, at Baan Siam are tough to make because they scorch easily
Kanom krok, or coconut milk and rice flour pancakes, at Baan Siam are tough to make because they scorch easily
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Kanom krok are delicate, sweet and savory cups of rice flour filled with custardy coconut cream. They’re often topped with savory elements such as scallions, corn, taro, or pumpkin. Plain little cups are lightly crisp and more oozy than chewy. It can take a little bit of time for these to come out of the Baan Siam kitchen, but they are worth the wait.

Kanom krok, or coconut milk and rice flour pancakes, at Baan Siam are tough to make because they scorch easily
Kanom krok, or coconut milk and rice flour pancakes, at Baan Siam are tough to make because they scorch easily
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Joy Luck House

Sesame balls are the precursor to fried mochi donuts. Often found on dim sum menus, they are also a staple in Chinese bakeries like Joy Luck House, in the heart of Chinatown. A round of rice flour dough is filled with red or mung bean paste, or lotus seed paste, deep fried, and rolled in sesame seeds. 

Infini-tea

All kinds of foods have been shoved into waffle makers recently, from Thanksgiving stuffing to tater tots, with exciting results. Putting mochi batter into a blazing waffle iron is no different, resulting in crispy outsides and soft, chewy insides. Infini-tea offers both pandan and taro flavors.

Banh Mi DC Sandwich

Banh bo are leavened rice flour sweets usually flavored with coconut milk. They are cooked by steaming, and have a slightly boozy flavor due to the yeast byproducts. The air pockets formed by the fermentation process make these less chewy than other rice flour-based sweets. At this trusty banh mi spot in Falls Church, find them pre wrapped in white, and pastel shades of red and green.

Breeze Bakery Cafe

Sweet rice doughnuts with red bean filling from Breeze Bakery in Annandale
Sweet rice doughnuts with red bean filling from Breeze Bakery in Annandale
Breeze Bakery [official]

Sweet rice donuts at this Asian bakery in Annandale feature a red bean filling to accompany the crispy, chewy rice flour shell. There is also mochi anpan, a standard bun dough filled with mochi nuggets and red bean filling.

Sweet rice doughnuts with red bean filling from Breeze Bakery in Annandale
Sweet rice doughnuts with red bean filling from Breeze Bakery in Annandale
Breeze Bakery [official]

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