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Bubbies Mochi Ice Cream

August 5, 2014

On a lunch date with my husband to Buddha’s Belly early last year, I was instantly reminded why I love mochi ice cream.  The soft, chewy outside of the mochi and the creamy, tropical flavors of the ice cream inside are just the perfect combination.  When I was doing some research on popular eateries in Honolulu, I came across a store called Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts.  Bubbies started in the mid 1980s as a homemade ice cream and sorbet store serving small batch, homemade desserts using local fresh fruits and tropical flavors of Hawaii.  Over the years it’s reputation for amazing ice cream and sorbets has grown along with it’s operations.  Today, Bubbies is known as the industry leader in mochi ice cream with at least 20 different flavors which are shipped all over the Mainland and all over the world with the “Made-In-Hawaii” brand it’s become known for.  Of course, seeing an ice cream parlour famous for it’s mochi ice cream piqued my curiosity and interest immediately.  Unfortunately, based upon it’s location, I knew that the likelihood that we’d have an opportunity to visit the store would be difficult as it was located in the heart of Honolulu and without a rental car, we’d pretty much be confined to Waikiki Beach.

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Imagine my surprise when we checked into our hotel on Waikiki Beach and I discovered a place that was serving up Bubbies Mochi Ice cream!  Inside the Sheraton Waikiki there’s a large sundries store called Lawson Station selling everything from packages of macadamia nuts and plastic leis and grass skirts for souvenirs to more practical items which guests could use every day such as cold bottled water and sodas to grab-and-go snacks and cookies.  But, Lawson Station also sells a lot of local grab-and-go food popular to local Hawaiians.  For example, Lawson Station was the only place I actually saw the very popular Hawaiian snack of musubi being sold – essentially a spam sushi.  What really excited me though was that Lawson Station advertised that they also had Bubbies mochi ice cream for sale!  I knew then and there that I’d be making a visit to Lawson Station to get my mochi ice cream fix before the end of the trip.

Mochi is essentially pounded sticky rice.  Created in Japan, mochi is now popular worldwide.  You can buy mochi balls on their own and add them as toppings for ice cream or frozen yogurt, or combine the two ingredients together and get mochi ice cream.  You start with the pounded sticky rice flattened out like a disc, scoop in a small spoonful of flavorful ice cream, wrap the ice cream entirely within the mochi and then roll the entire one and a quarter ounce ball of goodness in cornstarch to keep them from sticking to one another.  And you’ve got yourself mochi ice cream.  I know it sounds kind of weird if you’ve never had it before, but it’s actually an amazing little ball of soft doughy ice cream.

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At Lawson Station they had quite a selection of several flavors of mochi, including: vanilla, strawberry, green tea, lychee, choco mint, choco espresso, passion fruit, guava, mango and lihi mui mango.  So you’ve got your standard vanilla and strawberry flavors and your more tropical mango, guava and passion fruit flavors as well.  I wanted to try a little bit of each, so I opted for 3 mochi ice cream balls: chocolate espresso, lychee and mango.

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Mochi ice cream, once made needs to be kept frozen so that the ice cream inside the doughy sticky rice doesn’t melt.  The individual mochi’s are then packed together and either sold at the Bubbies shop or shipped to various distributors.  When you first get your mochi it’s pretty much a frozen, icy hockey puck.  While you could eat it this way, it probably wouldn’t be that tasty as you have a frozen ball of pounded sticky rice covering a hard-as-rock frozen spoonful of ice cream.  It’s best to let the mochi sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature so that the ice cream melts a bit and the sticky rice returns to normal room temperature.  Remember that the mochi balls were dusted in corn starch prior to being frozen, so once they come back to room temperature, it’s this corn starch that will help to prevent the balls of dough to sticking to one another.

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When you take your first bite of your mochi ice cream ball, it’s like heaven in your mouth.  Sweet, flavorful, and slightly melted ice cream surrounded by a luscious, chewy, gelatinous, doughy sticky rice.  The combination of soft, and smooth, and chewy is just perfect.  In this case, I tried the chocolate espresso first and I think I was in love.  The espresso-flavored ice cream inside was just perfect.  Slightly melted, it had the perfect rush of strong coffee/espresso flavor, but yet with a hint of sweetness so that it wasn’t so bitter as sometimes coffee can be.  The chocolate-flavored sticky rice was just mildly flavored enough that you could taste the chocolate, but it too wasn’t so in-your-face overpowering with chocolate flavor.  The combination of the sweet, but strong espresso ice cream and the subtle chocolate sticky rice was perfect.  These mochi balls were just the perfect size, about a 3-bite delight.  The mango and the lychee didn’t disappoint either.  The lychee was filled with a sweet lychee ice cream made from the sweet nectar of the lychee fruit.  The sticky rice again had a very subtle flavor of lychee added to it so that the combination was perfect, but not overly sweet.  And the mango mochi ball was outstanding.  Sweet mango ice cream and subtle mango-flavored sticky rice.  I probably could have bought one of each flavor of mochi ice cream they had and finished them all.  In fact, I kind of wished I did buy all of them!

Bubbies mochi ice cream is highly addicting, and now I see why it’s one of the top dessert shops on the island of Oahu, and probably in the whole Hawaiian island chain.  The quality of the mochi and the creaminess of the ice cream inside the mochi ball is just fantastic.  Everything literally melts away like butter in your mouth.  Every flavor I tried was full of rich, indulgent flavor.  If I had more time, I probably would have tired every single flavor that was sold at Lawson Station…. twice!  It’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up treat to enjoy as you soak up the rays and the atmosphere of Waikiki Beach.

 

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