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Sacramento's only handmade mochi kitchen

It's labor intensive but Mochi cooks at Osaka-Ya believe in making the Japanese confection the traditional way. | ABC10 Race and Culture Team

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Mochi is a traditional Japanese snack and Sacramento is home to one of the only handmade mochi kitchens in Northern California. If you follow your nose down 10th Street in Sacramento it may just lead you to the sweet aromas wafting out of the doors at Osaka-Ya Japanese Confectionery shop.

The delicacy everyone is lining up for is called mochi, a popular Japanese treat.

“It’s a snack food. Something you would sit down and drink tea with,” owner Linda Nakatani said.

Osaka-Ya is a family business. Linda Nakatani’s father started in 1963. When he passed away in 2009, she took over and taught her sons David and Yoshio Murakami the recipe. 

“Mochi is just rice flour, sugar, and water all mixed up and steamed,” Yoshio Murakami said.

The mochi recipe may sound simple, but the cooking process is far from easy. First, the ingredients are steamed, then it takes a crew of people to mix mochi to the right consistency. 

“It’s all labor-intensive. We do have machines that make it but it doesn’t look as good,” Linda said. 

Osaka-Ya is one of the few places left in Northern California that still make Mochi by hand.

“I am the only one in Sacramento and they keep saying 'don’t stop' because they can’t get it anywhere else," Linda said. 

Some historians estimate Japanese mochi dates as far back a 300 BC. It was a popular snack during tea ceremonies or New Year’s Celebrations. Today, mochi comes in multiple colors and flavors like chocolate and peanut butter, but traditional mochi is often filled with sweet red beans or lima beans.

Mochi is the kind of food you eat with loved ones and it requires a lot of love to make. “All of us, we are like a family. We joke as a family, yell like a family,” Linda said. 

Here at Osaka-Ya, mochi is a family tradition, but the tasty treat is a way to introduce the Japanese culture to generations of customers in Sacramento. 

“Now, I see a generation, from when I was little, serving them. You know their kids and grandkid. So, I pretty much know all my customers.”

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