Dear Mr. Gold:
My friend is giving a Hinamatsuri, Japanese Doll Day, party for her little daughter on March 3. I’d like to bring hishi-mochi for dessert. I wonder whether you might suggest somewhere in Los Angeles that would be likely to have hishi-mochi? I probably could whip some up with a friend’s help and a little food coloring, but with the Oscars coming up, I’m seriously into shortcuts.
—Wendy, Lexington, Kentucky
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Hishi-mochi, the diamond-shaped sticky-rice cakes of the holiday, tend to pop up in Japanese markets toward the end of February — they are the most seasonal of foods. The venerable Mikawaya, in Little Tokyo’s Japanese Village Plaza, is a riot of pink, white and green, hishi-mochi’s traditional colors, around the first of March — its wagashi, beautiful glutinous-rice concoctions stuffed with sweetened bean paste, are renowned, and the shop is reputed to have invented the modern sushi bar’s staple dessert, mochi ice cream. But if you’re in search of tradition, the confectioner Fugetsu-Do, L.A.’s oldest confectioner of any kind, has also been making delicious manju and mochi from the same recipes in Little Tokyo since 1903. 315 E. First St., Los Angeles, (213) 625-8595.