Have you all heard of Aburi Mochi before? It is a dish served at a shop called Ichimonya Wasuke (commonly known as “Ichiwa”), located along the approach to Imamiya Shrine in northern Kyoto.
Aburi mochi is charcoal-grilled mochi topped with roasted soybean powder and white mochi. Being made from 100% glutinous rice, the rice cake is very soft, and the soybean powder and white mochi bring a lovely sweetness to the dish. It is served on a bamboo skewer, 13 of which you can purchase for 500 yen -- a great deal, I’d say!
However, there is more to be appreciated about Aburi Mochi aside from its delicious taste. This dish has actually been served here for over 1,000 years!
Ichimonya Wasuke opened within Imamiya Shrine in 1000 AD (after the Heian Period) and has existed for 1,018 years. What a historical feat. As you might infer, this is actually the oldest restaurant in Japan, and it only has Aburi Mochi on its menu. The shop owner is referred to as an “Empress,” and the current Empress making this dish is the 25th one of her legacy. Aburi Mochi originated as a dish to be offered to the shrine -- skewered on strands of the sacred ropes adorning the shrine. Each piece is about the size of your thumb, making it the perfect bite-sized morsel. When rolling each piece of mochi, the Empress has it ingrained in her muscle memory to pull exactly three grams of mochi for each piece.
There are many specific factors that go along with true Aburi Mochi. For example, the glutinous rice must be of Oumi-no-Hane, and the soybean powder and white miso must be made in Kyoto. The charcoal must also Binto-tan charcoal from the Hyuga Province. And the water used to make the tea offered is said to use water drawn from a well older than the shop itself.
The mochi is made with absolutely no preservatives, and thus you can only buy it as this shop. That may be why so few people have heard about Aburi Mochi, despite its millennial existence. It is even said that Oda Nobunaga had once enjoyed Aburi Mochi. If you have the opportunity, please enjoy the flavor of this Aburi Mochi that has remained unchanged for the past 1000 years.
Source: Tokyo College of Sushi and Washoku: The College Headmaster’s One-Dish Course Series.
Photo source: Tokyo College of Sushi and Washoku: The College Headmaster’s One-Dish Course Series.