Rachel Burnett and Tom Nguyen are bringing joy to the Noblesville area and beyond with their special brand of doughnuts. On Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays they serve up Instagram-worthy, mochi-style doughnuts inside the VFW building on South 9th Street in Noblesville. On Saturdays they partner with local eateries to create pop-up shops. The challenge for customers is to get there before they sell out.
Shaped like flowers, mochi doughnuts are made from a blend of rice and wheat flour, which gives them a pillowy chew. They are extremely popular in California and came to the United States via Japan and Hawaii. Nguyen became an immediate fan from the first time he tried one.
“I went to the first mochi doughnut shop in California and stood in a huge line,” he says. “When I tried it, I thought it was the best dessert ever and it would be so cool to have a mochi doughnut shop some day. When we moved from Orange County, I decided I could be the first to open one here.”
“Mochi doughnuts were created in Japan first, but in a regular doughnut shape,” Nguyen continues. “Hawaii had something similar but the mochi doughnuts were called ‘poi’ and were like shaped like doughnut holes. Then the doughnut-fryer people made the flower shape. Hawaiians married the shape with mochi dough. It became so popular in Hawaii that Japan started to do it too. Now that shape is only used for mochi doughnuts.”
A graphic artist by trade and an avid home cook, Nguyen took a year to do research. He and Burnett, his wife, traveled back to California and visited close to 10 mochi doughnut shops. The gold standard turned out to be the doughnuts from the first shop he ever tried. He reworked several recipes that he found on YouTube until he achieved the taste and texture that he wanted.
Today, 16 flavors are available each day the shop is open, and they rotate with the seasons. Nguyen says once he came up with the glaze recipe, the sky was the limit. Traditional, glazed mochi doughnuts are always offered, but the majority feature bold flavors and bright colors, many with fun sprinkles or other decorations on top. Some examples are lavender lemon, matcha latte, churro, and taro unicorn.
“I’m the quality control,” Burnett says. “If I don’t like it, it doesn’t go out. They are shareable and can be treated like cupcakes. They are great to bring to special occasions like parties or work events.”
Besides doughnuts, there are other offerings customers love. A partnership with Helm Coffee Company has yielded a couple of fun drinks. The company came up with a cold coffee blended to complement mochi doughnuts, which comes in a can. The iced cereal-milk latte is comprised of Fruity Pebble-flavored milk and Helm coffee. The two wafflemodo sammies, made of pressed waffle doughnuts, ham from local vendor Smoking Goose, and gourmet condiments, are popular.
In the future, Burnett and Nguyen would like to have their business in a retail shop. For now, they are starting off small and working out of the commercial kitchen at the VFW. All the design and social media promotion is done in-house, and Mochi Joy has a large following. Word of mouth has increased demand. The doughnuts can be ordered online or bought on-site, and all inventory is typically sold out every day.
“We love it, although we wake up at 3 a.m. in the morning and don’t stop working until 6 p.m. each night,” Burnett says. “I quit my full-time job in April to join Tom. It’s definitely more fun.”
Mochi Joy is located at 654 South 9th Street in Noblesville. Call 463-266-0021 for more info. Visit mochijoydonuts.com to see flavors of the week and order online. View on Facebook and Instagram for pop-up locations.
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