While ice cream is a universally-loved treat, mochi ice cream is not something that everyone is familiar with. And that is a shame, given the wonderful taste and texture that the frozen dessert of Japanese origin offers. Mochidoki was founded by Union Square area resident Ken Gordon in 2014, bringing mochi ice cream to New York City and beyond. Mochidoki’s desserts are not only for sale through www.mochidoki.com, but they can also be found in restaurants and in retail spaces throughout Manhattan; the brand recently presented a pop-up store in SoHo’s Broadway Market Co.
Beyond offering unique flavors, what separates Mochidoki from other companies is that its products are free of artificial sweetners and colors, in addition to being gluten-free and kosher. Downtown caught up with Ken to learn more about his company. Mochidoki can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Is Mochidoki your first venture into the food world?
Ken Gordon: I worked in finance for much of career, at UBS and Morgan Stanley. This is my first foray in the food business.
Where did the idea for Mochidoki come from?
KG: After trying mochi ice cream a few times, I noticed slight differences in the various brands of mochi, specifically with the skin and texture. For example, some of the mochi were light and soft to bite, while others were denser. I wondered why there weren’t flavor options beyond the traditional matcha, red bean and vanilla, since there are endless options for regular ice cream. I immediately began to think about creative flavors and additions like incorporating chips, fruit bits or nuts to create another dimension to an already unique traditional dessert. The concept really appealed to me and I decided to embark in the world of mochi ice cream making!
I envisioned Mochidoki as pushing the envelope for interesting flavors, textures and colors, without sacrificing the quality of ingredients. Fortunately, we have been able to do so without popular additives used by other companies, that can be harmful to your health. Ultimately, our goal is to make mochi a new blockbuster ice cream category that is both stylish and relevant for today’s adventurous consumers.
As the founder of Mochidoki, what is a typical day for you like? Are you in the kitchen much?
KG: I would love to be in the kitchen every day exploring new flavor options, but as the founder of a new business, I typically spend my days seeking out potential new restaurant customers, in addition to building our growing online retail business. We are also focused searching for possible retail locations in the city, as our pop-up ventures have proven very successful. However, I am at our facility frequently through the week and work with our team to develop new flavor combinations and collections — I definitely have my fair share of mochi tastings!
Do you remember the first time you ever had mochi ice cream?
KG: Of course! It was on my birthday at a restaurant here in New York City in 2011. I remember biting into this handheld delight and experiencing the combination of green tea ice cream and the “mochi,” which was unfamiliar to me at that time, but it had a uniquely chewy texture that slowly melted away with the ice cream. I loved it, but I could see why it would have limited appeal compared to regular ice cream. I wanted to change that.
So what makes your brand different from most mochi ice cream?
KG: We spent a tremendous amount of time developing the perfect recipe for what I believe is the best quality mochi ice cream on the market. One that is vibrant, soft yet chewy, melts in your mouth and true to its Japanese origins. We create indulgent and adventurous flavors — Toasted Coconut, Mochacchino Chip, Passionfruit, Yuzu Mojito, Spicy Chocolate and more. We combine premium mochi with natural, high-quality ingredients and have an inquisitive approach to flavor profiles. That recipes makes for a collection of mochi ice cream that is exciting and intriguing to our many customers. I love seeing that “kid in a candy shop” look people get when they see the variety of flavors we offer and struggle to decide which ones they want to try. We say, “Try them all!”
Do you have a favorite of the Mochidoki flavors?
KG: What a difficult question to answer! It mostly varies by day as we have so many flavors, and I tend to go along with the seasons. Right now the Spicy Chocolate, part of our holiday collection, is at the top of my list — but that changes every few weeks. If I had to choose my personal favorite though, it would probably be our Mandarin Orange Cream, the nostalgia that flavor carries, with our Asian twist, is irreplaceable.
I recently had the pleasure of tasting your Spicy Chocolate and Egg Nog ice cream. Do you have other flavors in development?
KG: We’re always working on new flavors with our culinary advisor, Chef Michael Laskonis, but we like to keep details mum until they are ready for the public. We’ll be sure to let you know once they are officially in the works!
When not busy with Mochidoki, how do you like to spend your free time?
KG: It’s a new business, I’m ALWAYS busy with Mochidoki. But if I get a chance to relax, I typically spend my time with my wife and our new puppy Bubalah. We also frequently travel to our second home in the Hamptons. Another favorite of ours is throwing dinner parties of 10 to 20 friends — sometimes we even let them try new flavors to see how they like them!
What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
KG: I like new concepts, especially Asian sphere. I also like hearty foods, the cultural classics: Italian, French, Greek…Manhattan always has incredible emerging restaurants, so it is really hard to pick a favorite.
Do you have tickets to any upcoming events or concerts?
KG: I love colors, color combinations, psychedelic light shows, instrumental music, anything far out there — much like our mochi! I like bands like The Grateful Dead or any type of jam band. I have tickets for Phish at the end of December at MSG which I am really looking forward to.
Finally, Ken, any last words for the kids?
KG: Remember kids, we’re here on this planet for a good time, not a long time. Eat Mochidoki while you can!