A new pop-up stand at the Dallas Farmers Market is introducing Dallas to a luscious West Coast treat. The stand is called Oppa Treats, and it's a local bakery that specializes in mochi muffins, an irresistibly moist and dense confection that's a spin on a classic Hawaiian dessert.
Frozen-yogurt fans know mochi as the chewy bits, similar to gummy bears, that can be sprinkled as a topping. Mochi also appears in desserts such as Bubbies, in which a thin chewy mochi layer is wrapped around a filling of ice cream.
The basis of mochi is glutinous rice flour. Mochi cake muffins incorporate this flour for a snack that's more like dessert than breakfast.
There are also mochi cakes. But baking them into a smaller muffin size provides the maximum contrast in texture, with a pleasing interplay between the dense, chewy center and the crispy exterior.
Peter Hong founded Oppa Treats in 2018, doing pop-ups and collaborations with local businesses. He's currently camped out at the Chelles Macarons space at the Farmers Market every Saturday.
"Being Korean-American, I grew up with dreams of being a pastry chef, but my traditional parents steered me toward finance," he says. "But I always had the itch of a hospitality/culinary career in the back of mind."
Hong graduated college and worked in banking while simultaneously attending business school to get his MBA. But he was still dabbling in hospitality, volunteering at Dallas restaurants such as Top Knot, Uchi, and Haute Sweets Patisserie on weekends.
In 2017, he broke out and relocated to San Francisco, where he gained valuable experience as part of the team that opened Sunday at The Museum, a cafe at the Asian Art Museum.
But missing Dallas, he moved back and decided to pursue his dream of opening a bakery.
Oppa Treats' muffins are small, maybe three bites each. Flavors include crème brûlée, banana nut, churro, pandan, sesame, and ube, aka purple yam, which is the hot flavor of the moment.
A single muffin is $2, while two are $3.50.
The rice flour, in addition to creating the distinctive texture with a pudding-like interior, is also gluten-free. Some recipes use evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk; others use coconut milk.
Hong says he's in the very early stages of his bakery and will be expanding his product line. "Our mission is to bridge cultures and spread awareness by combining nostalgic American treats with mochi," he says.