Over the last few years, Café Mochiko has been the equivalent of a very popular teen—everyone clamored to know when and where Elaine Townsend and Erik Bentz would show up with their delicious takes on Japanese cuisine.
Now, with its first brick-and-mortar location, the café is all grown up. Its dark wooden floors and tables contrast with pale pink walls and a small selection of Japanese art while a colorful chalkboard hypes the daily special.
In the early part of the day, Mochiko is a coffeeshop and bakery—Townsend’s pastries landed her on Bon Appetit’s website and Instagram feed in the spring—but after 5 p.m., the dinner menu shines just as bright. On a recent visit, a stereo system from the last century plays upbeat oldies (including “Kung Fu Fighting”) in the corner while the warmly energetic staff explains the small and large plate options.
The broccoli gomae from the small plate menu comes in a small but heaping dish. Sweetly savory sesame sauce makes every crunchy bite a dream. Fujisawa soba (buckwheat noodles) from the large plate menu includes pork, a soft-boiled egg, and nori (seaweed) in a clear broth. Bring your appetite. The bowl is deep. Other menu highlights include the katsu sando (pork cutlet on Mochiko’s milk bread), Hokkaido Smashburger (Wagyu beef), and vegetarian kare rice (Japanese curry).
Hot tip: Arrive close to 5 p.m. to add a treat to your order. Cookies, rolls, and croissants not sold during bakery hours fly off the rack at dinnertime.