After moving to Japan and discovering all the different types of traditional desserts, hanami dango (pronounced: ha-nah-me dahn-go) still pops into my head first when I think of mochi. It’s definitely the cutest and the inspiration for my header!
So imagine my surprise to discover that dango is NOT mochi. After some web research, I’m still not clear on the differences (I think a lot of people use them interchangeably) so I’ll do some first hand research this weekend with my mother in law and report back to you next week.
Like the name suggests, hanami dango is most popular during cherry blossom season. They are either made at home or bought at the store for picnics underneath the sakura trees. Each of the colored dango are mildly flavored with sakura (pink), vanilla (white), and matcha (green). Dango isn’t complete without a side of green tea or matcha.
I always have high expectations for dango, but although they’re adorable, they’re quite plain and unfulfilling. Although I like the texture – chewy and gummy, it’s hardly sweet (even so much that I hesitate to call it dessert) with such a mild and natural flavor that it’s almost hard to taste the difference between them. Even so, dango are very popular and there are many Japanese dessert shops that specialize in it. I sometimes wonder if I’m alone in my distaste for it, but I would never say this out loud. In Japan, people say everything is ‘oishi’ (translation: delicious) even when it’s just ‘meh.’ So for all public purposes, dango is yummy!