Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Trader Joe's Dairy Free Mochi

About a year ago, I decided I was in love with mochi, the Asian ice cream you can eat with your hands. I was so blindly in love with it, that it inspired me to cheat and write the first ever What's Good at Trader Joe's post that wasn't about a Trader Joe's brand product, something that's only been done one other time in our 170 blog posts.

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.

9 comments:

  1. I'm a big fan of their Mochi, both this one and the other brand they carry. But, alas, I'm not very experienced with 'real' mochi, so my opinion is a bit skewed. Thanks for the review!

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  2. Wow, usually have to go to the Asian grocery store to get my mochi... this should be interesting for me to taste & can't wait to try! ~ thank you for posting!

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  3. I can't wait to try these! I really love real Mochi, but the coconut one sounds great!

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  4. I have never tried Mochi, but the way you describe it I'm going to. I love your posts, having two children with food sensitivities it is a great and affordable place for us to shop. Thanks

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  5. Sadly, this product has been confirmed as being discontinued!! Any fans can refer to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-trader-joes-coconut-milk-mochi/ and take a few seconds to add their support in bringing back this yummy dessert!! <3

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  6. Thanks for your comments, all. I certainly hope you all got to try them if they truly are being discontinued! I thought they were fairly new...and good. I most definitely will sign that petition!

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  7. I had no idea who or what Trader Joes was, there isn't one in my country. But a few people have commented on my post about making ice cream mochi and recommended that people try buy Trader Joes ingredients. I have to say the bought ice cream mochi is OK but really not as good as if you make it at home.
    cheers

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  8. At whole food they carried bubba brand mochi and its the best I ever tasted

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    1. I'll have to look for that brand, tammyluu! thanks!

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