Dallas dessert startup foils pandemic with sweet chewy Asian mochi treats
In the food & beverage world, one of the few unintended blessings from the coronavirus has been the proliferation in Dallas-Fort Worth of pop-ups, ghost kitchens, and independent outlets — and that includes Momma Wong's Mochis, a dessert startup specializing in an Asian treat called mochi.
"Momma" is Tina Wong, a native of Hong Kong who has always made mochi for family and friends. When the coronavirus hit, her daughter Mary Wong encouraged her mother to start offering them for sale.
"Due to the pandemic, my parents, who both work in the restaurant industry, weren't working," Mary says. "But we had been bugging my mom for years to make these mochis and see if anyone is interested. That's how it started."
Mochi is glutinous rice, pounded until it becomes a satisfyingly chewy snack used in a variety of ways such as a topping for frozen yogurt.
Probably the most popular mode is mochi ice cream treats, where the mochi forms a chewy "skin" wrapped around a bite-sized ball of ice cream, sold at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, and other grocery stores.
But Momma Wong's is none of the above.
"These are Hong Kong-style mochis, which are not too common around here," Mary says. "They have a much more chewy texture. And rather than ice cream, the fillings consist of fruits, pastes, and sweet beans. They're also dusted with coconut flakes, which is common in Asian desserts."
Momma Wong's fillings include:
- Peanut-sesame. Extremely popular flavor combo used in a wide variety of brittles and chewy Asian candies.
- Nutella crisp. Tastes like one of those Ferrero Rocher candies.
- Red bean. Made from azuki beans, this is one of the most common fillings used in Asian pastries and desserts.
- Pandan mung bean. This flavor combo is Vietnamese. Mung bean is often made into a comforting pudding, and pandan has been dubbed "the vanilla of Southeast Asia."
- Black sesame. Nuttier, more pronounced flavor than regular sesame seeds, and also a nutritional powerhouse. Very rich.
- Ube. This sweet purple yam is one of the buzziest flavors in desserts right now, being used in ice cream, doughnuts, and other sweets.
"The ube has been a huge hit," Mary says. "Ube has been such a popular flavor, and we use raw ube — we don't just use a bean paste and flavor it, as some people do."
They usually strive for six to eight flavors, including seasonal flavors such as mango, which they just phased out because mangos are going out of season.
They sell by the dozen, and let customers choose a variety. "That way, if you don't love a flavor, you're not stuck with a dozen," she says.
They take pre-orders only. You submit an order form, choosing a date and your preferred location of OMG Tacos (Mary is a co-owner at OMG): Richardson at 744 S. Central Expy., or The Colony, at 5800 Windhaven Pkwy. Once you place your order, you get a confirmation e-mail.
They also do popups at other restaurants, in an effort to help others.
"We do popups at retaurants as a way to bring foot traffic to restaurants, because we know they're suffering," she says. "Every week, I'll drive to a place and bring mochis and hope to give them some business as well."