Koko Head Cafe Owner Lee Anne Wong Reveals Her Go-To Spots for Mochi in Honolulu

Koko Head Cafe Owner Lee Anne Wong Reveals Her Go-To Spots for Mochi in Honolulu

Lee Anne Wong

Bravo’s Top Chef star Lee Anne Wong, who owns Koko Head Cafe in Honolulu, has had a longtime love affair with mochi that started long before she relocated to the Aloha State from New York in 2013. “I developed my love for mochi in Japan, where I traveled often before moving to Hawaii,” says Wong, who will soon put her kitchen knives to work in the Bay Area at the Maui at The Matheson dinner and live auction benefiting the Maui Strong Fund on May 18 during the Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience.

With roots in Japan, mochi chewy rice cakes made from sweet, glutinous rice — is now ubiquitous in many Asian cultures, and there are plenty of places to try it in Honolulu. Honolulu, and all of Hawaii for that matter, is a melting pot of Pacific Rim cultures, all of which have rice as a main staple food, and at least half of Honolulu’s population is Asian/Pacific Islander,” Wong says. “Whether it’s Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Hawaiian-influenced, mochi is a universal treat in Asian cuisine.” Here, Wong shares her favorite spots in Honolulu to sample this delicious confection. 

Traditional Japanese 

Mochi Minamoto Kitchoan
Courtesy of Minamoto Kitchoan

Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., ste #1110, Honolulu

Kahala Mall, 4211 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu 

Minamoto Kitchoan is always my spot to go for high-end mochi and wagashi (Japanese confections). Their sakura mochi (filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in an edible pickled cherry blossom leaf) is a long favorite springtime treat for me.”

Contemporary Japanese

Mochi from Daizu-tei
Courtesy of Daizu-tei

919 & 1011 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu
Saturdays, 8am–12pm

“Found at Kaka’ako Market, Daizu-tei’s strawberry white bean mochi is my favorite, and I always leave with a container of their house fermented black natto (made from fermented soybeans), too. Another market favorite of mine is Izu. Their intricately decorated mochi comes in rich flavors like chocolate, peanut butter and kinako (roasted soy flour).” 


Mochi from Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery
Courtesy of Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery

1027 Maunakea St., Honolulu

Chinatown Cultural Center, 100 N Beretania St., 110-112, Honolulu

“It’s Fook Lam Restaurant for life for me for the best dim sum and hottest, freshest, biggest jin dui (fried mochi rice balls rolled in sesame seeds and filled with a sweet paste). They also have plenty of savory mochi-based dim sum, like ham sui gok (fried glutinous rice dumplings) and turnip cake in XO sauce. Another one is Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery, which offers great mochi dumplings, gau (steamed sticky rice pudding), and plenty of other sweet and savory rice-based treats.” 


Mochi from H Mart
Courtesy of H Mart

458 Keawe St., Honolulu 

H Mart in Kaka’ako is a one-stop mochi delight store for Korean-style sweet and savory mochi.”


Mochi from Aloha Donut Co.
Courtesy of Aloha Donut Co

1742 S King St., Honolulu

Liliha Bakery

Multiple Honolulu locations

Liliha Bakery and Aloha Donut Co. make amazing mochi donuts.”


Mochi from Foodland
Courtesy of Foodland

Multiple Honolulu locations

“I’m literally always down with a tray of Foodland butter mochi (a chewy cake made with sweet rice flour, butter and coconut milk).”

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