Local Flavor: Old-School Mochi at Benkyodo

Benkyodo (1747 Buchanan Mall at Sutter) is a serious old-school San Francisco institution. The confectioner survived both the 1906 earthquake and the 1942 Japanese internment (though the latter did admittedly force a nine-year closure). Today, Benkyodo is still run by the founding Okamura family and still serves traditional sweets like manju (pastries made of flour, buckwheat, rice powder, and bean paste) and mochi (chewy rice flour balls with various fillings)

The mochi are magically delicious — and beyond a bargain at a buck each ($1.10 for fresh strawberry, well worth the extra dime). What's most exciting is that Benkyodo isn't resting on its laurels and has introduced a new and decidedly modern flavor in its chocolate marshmallow mochi, which actually contains a fluffy surprise inside the rich cocoa-flavored casing.

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