• NRuskell

Japanese specialities at Mochi Coffee in Juan-les-Pins

Specialising in handmade Mochi, this premium tea and coffee shop offers bento box lunches bao buns, miso soup and more.

Crispy fried onions sprinkled over teriyaki-glazed duck, sitting on a bed of soft white rice. The little bento compartments filled with pickled cabbage salad, edamame beans with a soy-ginger dressing and, for dessert, a handmade, traditional daifuku mochi with pistachio paste and scented with rose. Wash it all down with a Japanese sweet potato beer and you will feel transported.

For a moment, I feel like I’m back in Los Angeles, trying the latest boutique eatery on Melrose – but I’m in Juan-les-Pins and the glistening Mediterranean is only 200m from the door. Somebody pinch me!

On a small traverse at the end of town, Mochi Coffee has a clean and unassuming window front. What appears to be a fresh, speciality coffee bar, is, in fact, an atelier for freshly-made traditional Japanese mochi. But in the kitchen, Stephanie makes daily Japanese lunch specials with the highest-quality ingredients. Some days it’s fresh ramen with roasted pork, some days it’s a bento box with surimi maki & salad, or tomagoyaki donburi bowl, bao sandwiches or Teriyaki chicken over rice. Whatever the special of the day is, it’s sure to be delicious.

All lunches are made for takeaway and it’s best to order in advance. You can risk your luck of something being left-over after the line of people picking up, but I don’t recommend it!

Make sure to include a mochi, which is slightly discounted when purchased with a meal. Or, get a box of multiple mochis to try their delightful array of flavours.

Daifuku mochi is a very traditional Japanese confection made with adzuki bean paste, sometimes with an additional flavour, like sesame, and wrapped in a soft, rice dough wrapping. The ingredients are simple but it takes skill and proper technique to get the shape and consistency correct.

Stephanie is originally from Tahiti, but her family is of Japanese descent, many still living in Japan. This, she says, raised her with Japanese cooking culture growing up. When she came to the Côte d’Azur to study, she met Alexandre and the two have been together ever since. After a few kids, they decided to open this shop, where Stephanie’s culinary expertise and family traditions blend beautifully with local ingredients.

The beauty of fusion cuisine is taking traditional practices and marrying them with the flavours of another place or culture. Here, Stephanie makes her mochi with traditional ingredients as well as local flavours such as rose & pistachio, bitter almond & orange flower, crème de marron, black sesame & local honey, and so many more. The best part? She uses top-quality, ingredients, they’re vegan, gluten-free, mostly organic and not made with any added fat. How’s that for indulgence?

Another rare find at Mochi Coffee is the elusive Japanese Cheesecake – a light, fluffy delight that takes top-secret savoire-faire to pull off. Stephanie flavours this mile-high, cloud-like cake with vanilla beans brought back from Tahiti and it is spectacularly divine. Never tried it? Forget what you think about cheesecake – this isn’t heavy or dense —it is whipped up to form a soft, spongy cake similar to angel food cake but isn’t terribly sweet.

I can't leave out the café part -- they have a vast selection of premium teas and coffees, some of the hard-to-find green teas like my favourite, gen-mai cha. Also an array of Japanese beer and drinks that you have probably never heard of, so make sure to give some a try!

For anyone who misses good Japanese food, this little café will surely seem heaven-sent.

Make sure to order ahead and tell them Riviera Insider sent you!

Open Tues – Sat 10 am – 6 pm.

10 Rue Ste Marguerite, 06160 Juan-les-Pins

Tel : +33 09 62 61 67 46

-Nicole Ruskell

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