Berkeley’s Much-Heralded Mochi Muffins

My new addiction.

My new addiction.


Ever since discovering the joys of butter mochi in Hawaii a few years ago, I’ve been on a mochi kick.

I can’t get enough of the chewy, bouncy texture that sweet rice flour gives to baked goods.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to take a plane across the Pacific — only a drive to the East Bay to get my latest fix.

After hearing the praises of the mochi muffins made by Pastry Chef Sam Butarbutar, I finally had a chance to buy a few ($3.50 each) when I dropped by Catahoula Coffee Co. on Fourth Street in Berkeley.

The Indonesian-born Butarbutar, who worked at Lazy Bear in San Francisco when it was merely a pop-up concept, struck out on his own as a pastry chef. His Sam’s Patisserie is located inside the coffee house. When customers kept requesting gluten-free treats, he started experimenting with the rice flour.

Inside is a chewy-bouncy bite.

Inside is a chewy-bouncy bite.

While he bakes other items, the mochi muffins are his best-seller. They’re like butter mochi, but baked in an individual portion. Heady with the vanilla-like perfume from pandan leaves, and flecked with black and white sesame seeds, these little cakes are irresistible. They’re deeply golden and crunchy on the outside, and sticky-chewy inside. They look austere but pack an almost caramelized richness from butter and coconut milk.

It’s the perfect pick-me-up after a day of shopping on Fourth Street.


More Mochi Love: Butter Mochi


And: Chocolate Butter Mochi

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