It’s always good to have two things on your side when traveling: luck and timing. On Hawaii’s Big Island, a beloved mochi confectionary with a small pink counter called Two Ladies Kitchen isn’t typically open on Mondays. However, on my last morning in town, they welcomed customers while filling a massive special order, which proved to be a most fortuitous visit.
Tomi Tokeshi opened the confectionary about 18 years ago with niece Nora Uchida. Tomi Tokeshi learned to make mochi from a Buddhist priest, who trained in Japan and was more rooted in tradition. She’s now retired, and the other lady carries on the family legacy.
The mochi was across-the-board great, with the glutinous rice flour treats all appearing soft and pillowy. My choices included a square of adzuki bean and mochi dipped in walnut and kinako – roasted soybean powder; sweet and sour shiso with a purple hue and herb flecking; a yellow, subtly sweet and tangy lilikoi (passion fruit) square, plus the larger mochi, with the interior coated with a judicious amount of earthy red bean paste and filled with an entire sweet strawberry.
During my visit, Nora Uchida said mochi is symbolic of good luck, and rice is nourishment for the deceased before they ascend to nirvana. If they receive Two Ladies mochi on their journey, that’s bound to bode well.