Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Asian Sweet Treats

Mochi and treats from Osaka-ya
It's always fun to find hidden treasures. Last summer I went exploring some of these treasures with Suzanne Phan. We went hopping around checking out places to get Asian sweet treats. Here are some places you might be unaware of. Keep in mind that most of them operate as cash-only.

Osaka-ya's confection counter

Starting with the most well-known first, Osaka-Ya (2215 10th St.) is just a block from my house and yet it was years before I went in. In business for over 40 years, they state that they are one of only three remaining shops in Northern California that still make traditional Japanese mochii and manju confections from scratch.

What you will probably notice first as you approach is a cluster of people standing outside a small window. This is where Osaka-Ya serves their Japanese style shaved ice. I had learned in Honolulu the history of Hawaiian shaved ice began with the Japanese introducing their shaved ice to the islands. Osaka-ya doesn't have lots of toppings/additions. They have about a dozen flavors of syrup, offer a scoop of ice cream in the middle if you choose, and have azuki beans available for those who like them.

Next stop is Bambu at 6901 Stockton Blvd. Note that it is not directly off of the street, but in a shopping complex. You will need to turn into the parking lot before you will see it. Bambu is a chain/franchise and have five California locations. The specialty at Bambu is their many types of che - a Vietnamese sweet dessert "pudding". It is akin to the Filipino halo-halo. Both have a sweet liquid, usually coconut water or milk, and then mix-ins that range from basil seeds to shaved young coconut, tapioca pearls, and jellies. Bambu also serves milk teas, boba drinks, and smoothies.

cane juice w/ strawberry juice
If you walk across the parking lot from Bambu you will find Nuoc Mia Ninh Kieu. Nuoc Mia means sugar cane juice and Ninh Kieu is the name of a town in Vietnam. That is exactly what this store sells - fresh squeezed sugar cane juice. They have bags of chopped canes that they put through the cane press about three times to extract all the juice. You can get it plain, mixed with another fruit juice, and even buy half and whole gallons of it to take home. The most popular is with kumquat juice, but I prefer with strawberries. You can also get other juices and smoothies made and they sell some Asian confections and jerky as well.

If you are hot this summer and looking for something new and refreshing to try, then stop by one of these places for a great, sweet treat.

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