Kyoto Top-ten Foodie Omiyage Souvenir: Miso Chigiri Mochi
This is miso flavored gyuhi mochi from Honda Miso and it is a masterpiece! In addition to the novel and exceptional taste, this is a foodie souvenir that you ought to be able to take back home with you when you visit Kyoto. Even if you are not into wagashi confections, you might still like this as it is similar in taste and texture to caramel — but even better!
How Does Miso Chigiri Mochi Taste?
While miso and mochi together are not unheard of, before sugar was widely available miso was often used to flavor mochi sweets in Japan, this is different. This is reminiscent of caramel in taste and feel yet without a trace of actual caramel in it, which I find very intriguing.
It is made with gyuhi mochi which is mochi with air whipped into it, so the texture is bubbly soft rather than firm like mochi used for cooking.
The fragrance is pronounced and includes the pungent punch of miso, but not too much.
The taste is quite extraordinary. The combination of sweet, miso and mochi come together in a really novel and delightful way. The flavor is not at all understated, it is a pretty huge flavor for any wagashi. I think the miso gives it a lot of body. It is very caramely and ‘misoy’ and has a hint of butter too. The miso paste that is used is Kyoto’s famous white miso (Saikyo shiro miso) which has little salt and is not as pungent as darker and longer fermented miso varieties.
The mochi comes in two colors; brown and pink. The brown ones are miso flavored and the pink ones are plain gyuhi mochi. The miso flavored pieces account for about 8 or 9 in 10 of the total. I think that the pink ones add a real ‘Kyoto’ touch of understated sophistication to it. If they were all miso flavored it would be monotonous and if the pink ones had their own flavor, that would be excessive and lack harmony of flavor.
This gyuhi mochi is packed in light brown colored wasanbon sugar. Wasanbon is the powdered sugar that is native to Japan. It is usually steamed, kneaded and pulverized several times. Wasanbon is somewhat caramely in flavor with a slight burnt sugar flavor to it, yet it is extremely delicate. The pieces of mochi have a generous coating of wasanbon on them which you can brush off a bit for a different flavor variation.
Where to Buy
I think that this product is only available at Honda Miso Honten. The location is just west of the Gosho Imperial Palace at the intersection of Ichijo Dori and Muromachi Dori streets. In the neighborhood is the famous Toraya wagashi confectionary and Sawai Shoyu Honten soy sauce brewery.
Honda Miso also offers white miso caramel which is also very good.
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