A Richmond ramen restaurant started offering mochi donuts earlier this month, and the colourful desserts are already making a splash on social media.
The donuts combine mochi, a popular Japanese treat made from glutinous rice, with the Western fried cakes.
“I tried mochi donuts in Taiwan and Japan a long, long time ago. And I really liked it,” said Kathy Tung, owner of Asaka Ramen who makes the donuts by hand.
“So when I opened up Asaka, I thought, ok, I wanted to add one unique item to the menu to complement the ramen.”
Tung, who is also the entrepreneur behind Tmix Tea & Dessert Bar, has offered desserts like bubble waffles and macarons with ice cream before. But she wanted something Japanese-inspired, since she didn’t think French macarons would go with ramen.
“I got a Japanese original recipe … (They’re) less heavy than (North American) donuts. So customers can enjoy more,” she said.
She thinks she’s the first to offer mochi donuts in Metro Vancouver.
Emma Choo, a food blogger who goes by @VancouverFoodie on Instagram, tried them and said they’re oilier than mochi donuts she’s tried in Japan and Taiwan, but still good.
"I've been waiting for them to make their appearance for quite some time," she said.
These are the first pon de ring mochi donuts she's seen in the city, although other Japanese cafes already offer mochi brownies and cakes.
After Choo’s visit and subsequent Instagram post, Tung said the donuts’ popularity has blown up.
On Friday, while speaking to the Richmond News, she said the first batch she made that morning sold out in 20 minutes and she was about to make another.
“It’s all by my two hands. I can only keep up that much inventory,” she said, adding she felt sorry for customers who arrived after she’d sold out.
Tung has a deep fryer in the back of the restaurant, and is only able to make about 40 to 50 donuts at a time. Like many restaurant owners in Richmond, she finds it hard hiring staff in such an expensive housing market. She said she’d be able to make more if she could hire more people.
“I cannot make it in a big batch like those shops in Japan,” she said. “Those are chain stores so they have really big machine to make. So they can keep up the stock all day.”
But since she’s currently the only shop in the city offering the donuts, mochi enthusiasts might just have to wait.
Tung offers the donuts on weekdays after 3 p.m. and on weekends after 1 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Wednesdays. It’s also closed in early April while Tung and her husband go on holidays, but will re-open April 18.
If you’re interested in working at Asaka Ramen, email firstname.lastname@example.org.