It’s no secret that the Mission District has a sweet tooth. But while ice cream and cookie offerings are abundant, mochi aficionados have long had to go elsewhere to get their fix. Linda Lo of Simply Mochi intends to change that.
Although Linda grew up in the Bay Area and the food industry, she never attempted to make mochi until she went to Japan. When she returned, to satiate her mochi cravings she spent months reading cookbooks and tweaking recipes. After mastering the traditional red bean mochi, she moved on to more experimental offerings like cheesecake and PB&J.
Mission Loc@l: First of all: What is mochi?
Linda Lo: Mochi is a rice cake which can be plain or have sweet or savory fillings. I make sweet ones. It is often part of Japanese New Year family gatherings because it is considered to be a lucky food.
ML: How did Simply Mochi get started?
LL: I had a cafe for six years but it was time for me to try something new and I wanted to travel. In the subway stations in Tokyo, there were food stands everywhere. I would buy some mochi, eat them on the train, and then get more at the next station. I ate so many, I thought I was going to turn into one! The most I ate in one day was 21.
When I came back, I started making my own and bringing it to parties. Friends and family would taste test and it grew into a business. Now I take online orders, often for parties and weddings.
ML: How has the devastation in Japan affected you?
LL: It saddened me to think that the place that has greatly affected my life decisions and career choice is in such turmoil. I knew right away that I had to help somehow. I will be donating 10 $10 gift certificates to the Bakesale for Japan’s Mission location. This will give people the option to choose the flavors they want. The most popular ones are fresh strawberry, strawberry cheesecake, lemon, and red bean.
ML: How did your mochi end up in the Mission?
LL: I have a pickup location at Pot+Pantry. The owner, Donna, was a customer and wanted to feature artisan foods in addition to kitchen goods. I also participate in Fabric8’s Street Food Fridays. I love the Mission! I like coming here to eat, especially on 18th Street.
ML: What’s up next?
LL: I’m hoping to get a truck of my own and go around to different cities or have my own storefront. I want to educate people about fresh mochi. A lot of people associate it with ice cream mochi, but fresh mochi is completely different.