Well, Trader Joe finally got the hint. He decided to whip up a batch of his own mochis. And instead of offering a half dozen flavors in separate packages like the Mikawaya brand, he decided to bring us a sampler of sorts that showcases three fantastic flavors (although two of the three are much more fantastic than the other, but we'll get to the details in a moment). Not only that, but Trader Joe's version is perfect for true vegans and the lactose intolerant!
First of all, upon inspecting the box, a red flag immediately presented itself to me: there are very intricate designs on the mochis themselves...in some sort of leaf shape I think? The rice-based shell of most mochi would be way too soft to ever flaunt such a detailed insignia. "Oh please don't let these mochis feel and/or taste like plastic, Trader Joe!" I thought to myself. Red flag number two: why mango? Chocolate is pretty basic. It makes sense. Coconut makes sense since these dairy free ice creams are made with coconut milk. But the mango...the mango is what worried me, since Trader Joe's track record with mango products is full of hits like this and this, as well as big misses like this and this.
On a scale of general plasticity, with actual plastic being a 10 and Mikawaya's mochi shells being a 1, the shells of Trader Joe's mochis fall somewhere in between, but thankfully they're closer to Mikawaya mochi than to actual plastic...we'll say a 4. Surprisingly, despite my initial red flag, Sonia felt their plasticity was more bothersome than I did. They definitely have the firmest shells of any mochi that I know of (and yes, I have tried mochi from somewhere other than Trader Joe's) but their texture is still quite pleasant if you ask me.
As far as flavors go, I was absolutely thrilled with the coconut. It tastes like amazing, sweet, real coconut milk. The chocolate was also delicious, and it was an excellent approximation of actual chocolate ice cream made with dairy milk. Sonia liked chocolate the best, with coconut being a close second for her. Vice versa for me. The flavor of the chocolate was at least as good as Mikawaya's chocolate, but the coconut might have been the best tasting mochi I've ever had. And sure enough, we were both a little disappointed with mango. It was edible...but it tasted weird. Sonia thought it tasted too sour for mochi ice cream. She thinks it should have been sweeter. I agree. It was true to the taste of a real mango to some extent, but it could have used some more natural sugar.
Since the different flavors in the sampler inspired such different reactions, we're gonna go ahead and score them individually first. Sonia gives the mango flavor a 2.5 out of 5. She gives coconut a 4 and chocolate a 4.5. I'll give mango 3.5 stars. It wasn't that bad. And I give coconut a 4.5 and chocolate a 4.
So, here are our bottom lines, by flavor:
Dairy Free Coconut Mochi, bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.
Dairy Free Chocolate Mochi, bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.
Dairy Free Mango Mochi, bottom line: 6 out of 10.
But since they sell all three flavors together, we have to give you a single definitive score for the product. I'm breaking out my calculator about now....
Trader Joe's Dairy Free Mochi
Bottom line: 7.67 out of 10 stars.