Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mochilato - Irvine

What is it? It's everything. The proverbial "kitchen sink" of desserts. A shaved ice mound topped with one too many toppings. Make that three too many. I had it at Mochilato -- the newest Asian dessert joint to recently open in Irvine -- and I wanted to like it, but I just couldn't.

It's not that the components by themselves weren't any good. They were. The mochi nuggets were chewy, sweet, like edible wax and bubble gum. The strawberries were perky, the kiwi fresh, and the mango tart. But then there were red beans ...and bananas ...and green tea powder ...and vanilla frozen yogurt ...and sweetened condensed milk ...and rose syrup ...and on and on.

The sum of its parts equaled a convoluted, sickening mish-mash of good things, which together, become bad, like Warren Beatty and Dustin Hofmann in Ishtar or Spielberg and Kubrick with A.I.

The shop called it the "Mochilato Way" ($5.95). I just called it "Blech!"

But I am being a bit hard on Mochilato. They do, in fact, offer more restrained and sane choices of shaved ice toppings. That is to say: Not all of them together in the same bowl.

So if there's anyone to blame, it was me for ordering it. I was the one who got greedy.

I was, however, better at choosing the products they were known for: Mochi ice cream, or more precisely;

mochi + gelato = mochilato.

Since this was the retail outlet of Mikawaya -- the company who puts out those mochi ice cream boxes you see in the freezer section of Asian grocery stores -- I wasn't expecting less than perfection.

And they were perfect.

Even better: The boutique sells more flavors than what is commercially available, arranged like truffles at a chocolate shop. There's one to tempt every sweet tooth, from hazelnut, to mango, to peaches 'n cream, to green tea. And the names, of course, are cute as buttons.

The strawberry mochi I tried was dubbed "Pinky" ($1.25), and the fruit's flavor was present in the thin, glutinous rice casing as well as its gelato center. The green tea was just as refreshing and the stretchy pull of the mochi, just right.

But the best part about eating them was that there was no stick, no cone, no bowl. Nothing more than just a layer of dough between you and the ice cream.

Mochilato also offers pastries, gelato in its pure form, coffee, tea, and even frozen yogurt (the tart kind a-la-Yogurtland and Pinkberry). It's a one-stop-dessert-shop. Just know, before going in there, what should and shouldn't be eaten together.

(949) 559-1116
14310 Culver Drive Ste E
Irvine, CA 92604


At 2:10 AM, Blogger Juliet said...

Did they have ginger flavor? That's my favorite, but so hard to find.

At 2:13 AM, Blogger Chai Tea said...

I'm so glad you reviewed Mochilato, its like my new favorite place right now.

I actually think their shaved ice is pretty yummy and I'm pretty sure its their most popular item, maybe you should ask for it without condensed milk next time so it won't be too sweet and overpowering. You can actually ask and pick which fruits you'd prefer and the ingredients you don't want. Their "single size" is seriously NOT single though... its pretty funny to see like 5-6 people struggling to finish their "family size."

Of course, their mochilatos are the highlight... the 'Peaches and Cream,' 'Cookies and Cream,' and 'Pistachio' are some of my favorites. Try their Monaka next time, its like a red bean sandwich with your choice of gelato inside.

But seriously, Irvine has so many new dessert places popping out. Pink Berry opening at Spectrum AND at the District, Kiwiberri opening next to 99Ranch across from Yogurtland, and I hear they are opening a Guppy's somewhere too. I'm not one to complain though, I have seriously been to Yogurtland/Mochilato waaaay too many times this summer. =P

At 5:28 AM, Blogger V said...

I think they went over the top with the condensed milk (and the beans!) the rest of it looked good though.

That Pinkie Mochi looked adorable! I'll have to hit that, soon! Thanks.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Vegasbuff said...

I think Mikawaya is trying to compete with Bubbies for the mochi ice cream crown. Mikawaya may have invented it, but Bubbies has a seemingly endless array of flavors.

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you go again, try the Italian version of shaved ice, I think it's much better than the Japanese version, (but that's partly because I'm not a huge fan of green tea or condensed milk, though red bean is ok...)

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Christine D. said...

Awesome. I think I'm gonna be in that area today.

Your shaved ice sorta reminds me of a custom smoothie I had a while back. I asked for nearly EVERY fruit they had. My smoothie ended up looking kinda gray and tasted like water with lots of seeds, haha.

At 1:16 PM, Blogger jane said...

thanks for the heads up. i'm so excited right now

At 6:35 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


That's a good question. I bet they do! I'll have to check the next time I go.


I think I will custom make my shaved ice next time for sure. All it needs is probably just the sweet bean, mochi, and some condensed milk (which I like actually). I'm glad that these shops are opening up. Now if we can get a Cafe Blanc to open here in Irvine, that'd be somethin'!


Yeah, I think if I had just kept the condensed milk and the beans away from the mixture I would've been alright. Maybe the green tea too. Definitely that rose syrup. It had no business being there when the condensed milk was there.


Now I'm curious. Where is there a Bubbies?!


Yup. Italian or the Japanese, but not together. That was my mistake in ordering the Mochilato Way.


I have an "after" picture of the slush that was left. But I held back on showing it 'cuz it ain't pretty.


Cool! I'm glad. If you know of any leads on new places, do let me know!

At 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely love the Mikawaya mochi ice cream (they have them at Trader Joe's too). Are the ones they serve at Mochilato the same size as what you get in the box at the store?

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Deb said...

I can't say I'm loving the looks of the pic, but I'm not a sweet person. I do love what they did with the interior and space, but that's not enough to keep a place going. I believe a bought a coffee adn that was it! Sounds like it was a good choice!

At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like your writing much better here than in the weekly. Media difference?

At 9:08 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Yep. Same size. But I'm still unsure if they make them at the store or somewhere in a central factory.


I wouldn't order that shaved ice again to be sure. Their store is definitely gorgeous. But you're right, the fact that it wasn't busy during the hottest day of the year (that was when I went), isn't a good sign. I do like their mochi ice creams, except that it could bankrupt me if I liked them too much.


Interesting. You're not the first to tell me so. My editors were the first. Yet I cannot figure out the reason for the discrepancy. I type on the same keyboard and I'm using the same brain.

Lately, I've been loosening it up for the Weekly articles and getting comfy, where early on, I think I was just trying too hard. Be sure to check out this week's Weekly -- It's the Best Of Issue. And hopefully a lot of my stuff will be on there.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Atypical California Girl said...

That top picture looks like vomit.
But the mochi looks tasty.
Thanks for the review.

At 12:51 AM, Blogger h said...

I dont' have to try it. I already like it. Fresh fruits, chewy mochi bits, lots of red beans, green tea power, with condensed me, that's a winning combination. Thanks for the great find.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger H. C. said...

The "everything but the kitchen sink" thing looks kinda grotesque, even though I personally have trouble deciding which toppings to put in my shaved ice. My standard combo is mochi/almond tofu/peanuts or azuki beans. With condensed milk, of course.

But Mmmm.... mochi!

At 11:23 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Atypical Girl,

LOL! Well, I was hoping it didn't come to the the "V" word, but I must admit, it does doesn't it!


You are a brave and adventurous soul! My tastebuds, on the other hand, are easily overwhelmed. Wimpy, I'd call 'em.


Now you're talkin'. Those toppings you mention would be great! Actually, substitute the almond tofu for custard and I think that's a halo-halo!

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Julian Hsu said...

We ate there just the other night. I agree about the mishmash of flavors in the Mochilato Way (we had to try it), but it's by far the best value. It's either $4 for a thimble-full of gelato, or $6 for this gargantuan bowl of everything.

By the way, we saw the folks there popping mochilatos out of the box and into the display case. ;-) That says to me that it's best to stick to the flavors you can't find across the street at Trader Joe's or a nearby 99 Ranch.

At 5:05 PM, Blogger KT said...

I just went to Mochilato, I bought frozen yogurt. I suggest this, it's better than Pinkberry.

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mochilato is delicious. Try their coffee-flavored shaved ice complete with coffee gelato and coffee mochi chunks. I agree with a previous commenter - Irvine has been opening so many dessert stores! Mochilato, Yogurtland, Pinkberry, Kiwiberri, and all of those bubble tea stores. Wowww.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


That's a good tip. Why bother buying a commonly stocked flavor at Mochilato if it's sold at 99 Ranch. Besides the wierder the flavor, the better!.


I'm so over Pinkberry. And I haven't even tried it. Pinkberry PR backlash.


Irvine is my favorite city. Good thing I live here!

At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mochilato I found out is only sold in the Mochilato retail shops. The Mochi Ice Creams are the only ones being sold at 99 Ranch and Trader Joe's. So if you're a Gelato fan, you have to order them at Mochilato

At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Lyka said...

Thanks for sharing this review about Mochilato..hhhmm.. I think they're place are good and clean.. I love Mochi so, I will be there one of these days..


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