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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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Trader Joe's 12 Mushroom Mochi

Skipping right to the obvious question: no, there's neither 12 types of mushrooms in Trader Joe's 12 Mushroom Mochi, nor are there 12 mushrooms per mochi. Those both would be records. There's just two types of mushrooms involved, with the equivalent of about maybe one to one and a half mushrooms per piece. Are there even 12 kinds of mushrooms that are edible for us homo sapiens? I don't even know.

Nah, if you haven't guessed it by now, the 12 refers to the number of mochi (mochi? mochis? mochies?) in the box. My only previous experience with mochi have been of the ice cream variety, which are honestly a little bit weird to me. That's not meant in a judgmental way. Wiggily, doughy-skinned ice cream is a little bit of an odd concept for the classic suburban-raised American palette, but it doesn't mean I can't enjoy them. Regardless, these mochi were my first foray into non-desserty mochi (I didn't even know such a thing existed), and though I'll admit my hesitancy, there's a good part of me that was fairly intrigued.

Cooking them was a cinch that took just a couple minutes - brown in some oil, dump a little water on and cover. Nothing new if you've heated up frozen potstickers before, of which TJ's has some decent varieties. The dough tastes a lot like those - there to serve the purpose of holding in the filling and not stand out. But here's a difference, probably due to the size and shape: whereas smaller dumplings more or less keep intact, these mochi practically explode and gush all over the place once your teeth pierce the skin. Not sure of the right mouthfeel-related term to describe, but man, the first one was a bit much, but I was used to it by the time I ate my sixth and last one.

As far as taste, I'm not impressed or dismayed. They're very much a meh product, for me at least. The filling tasted a lot like the Trader Ming Stir Fried Vegetable Rolls that were fairly disappointing when we gave them a test drive. The mishmash mushrooms with carrots and onions and whatnot was salty, a little soy-saucey, and honestly not that terrific. Important note: there's oyster sauce in the filling, so despite mostly being a fungi, the mochi couldn't help being a little shellfish. Not vegetarian. Not that they taste all that oystery, just mushroomy and oniony.

Sandy, who thinks all mushrooms are really Goombas out to get her, could not be interested any less in trying these, and well, I was not going to plead a toddler to try them, either, so I made them for dinner on a night they both were out, and I shared them with Jack, the Chinese exchange student and mushroom aficionado who lives with us. "Pretty good," he said. "I thought they'd be sweeter, but they're not bad." Not sure how a sweeter taste would work, but, well, different flavor palettes I guess. He gave them a 3.5. I'd be open to giving them another try, but for now at least, I can't go higher than a 2.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's 12 Mushroom Mochi: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. I wouldn't try those if u paid me..:-) I don't even like the true mochi..my gag reflex starts up w/just reading the word 'mochi'

  2. I hated them! Ate one, and returned the rest!!

  3. OH WOW. How our taste palettes differ! This is one of my FAVORITE new items I've tried recently! Unlike most of my friends who go gah-gah over mocha ice cream, I like them- I'm just not gah-gah over them! But this mushroom mochi is a HIT for me! I haven't tried pan frying it. I go the easy route and just dump them in a steamer until they get soft. Then I wait a little until they firm up a bit and become chewy and delicious!
    Probably helps that one of my favorite ingredients is mushrooms. :)

  4. Thanks for the shellfish heads up! Now I have an excuse to not try them! :)

  5. Sorry to hear you’re not a fan - my husband loves these (he’s a vegetarian)! I’ve yet to try them.

  6. I absolutely hated these. I tried a few different sauces just to mask the funky flavor to no avail... I don't return things or these would have gone back to the store. Instead, they went out to the squirrels/birds/groundhogs.

  7. I have to say I was super disappointed by these mushroom mochi. They combine two of my favorite things: mushrooms and dumplings. The best way to describe the flavor would be to say they taste like sour or extremely foul foot odor. Like that of someone who has worn synthetic socks while competing in a triathlon the day after eating 6lbs of rancid kimchi. (I love kimchi by the way). I honestly had to spit out the bite I took. My husband choked it down but we threw the rest away.

  8. I thought these were wonderful. I just tried them, and for me, they exploded with flavor. They were a bit greasy, but it didn't really bother me. YUM. Mochi is definitely an acquired texture. I've also tried TJ's ice cream mochi, and I didn't used to like them because I think the mochi a while back around that ice cream kinda crumbled (maybe they were too frozen?) and I didn't like the texture. I bought them again recently, and the mochi shell was nice and chewy and I loved them.