NOBLESVILLE — A mochi donut shop opened inside the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post in Noblesville at the end of March. It's the first such donut shop in the Indianapolis area, and likely the state.
"I'm from California originally, and there are many mochi donut places there. So, when I moved here, I was like, 'There's no mochi donut place, and I love them so much, and, I think I'm the guy to bring them out here,'" Tom Nguyen, co-owner and baker at Mochi Joy Donuts, told WRTV.
Mochi (pronounced "MOH-chee") donuts have Japanese and Hawaiian origins and are described as crispy on the outside and chewy at the center. They're made with rice flour and typically have fewer sugars and sweeteners than the traditional American donuts. Just as well, the more obvious difference is the shape.
"They're just light and soft and pillow-y," Nguyen explains of traditional mochi donuts.
"They're like a floral shape which, which looks like it's got like eight connected balls together," Nguyen further explained. "Once you see that shape, you know it's a mochi donut."
According to Nguyen, the flavors of a mochi donut tend to be more tropical. Typical mochi donut flavors include pog, which is passion fruit, orange and guava, and a black sesame flavor, taro and french coconut.
Although Mochi Joy has a host of traditional mochi donut flavors, Nguyen does have other flavors that may speak more to the Midwesterner's palate, such as its "maple bourbon bacon" donut.
"People come for the flavor, but they come back for that texture, that mouthfeel," Rachel Burnett, co-owner of Mochi Joy, said of introducing mochi donuts to people who've never tried them before.
Burnett is a Hoosier native who grew up in the Noblesville area.
"People are just so thankful we're here. There was a gal from Japan who just had missed mochi donuts from where she grew up, and now we have it here!" Burnett said.
Selling out like hot (mochi) cakes
The mochi donut is a Hoosier hit, as Mochi Joy has sold out every day they've been open for the last few weeks. When WRTV was there on Tuesday, we watched as Mochi Joy's pre-orders promptly arrived at 11:25 a.m., the receipt machine spewing out orders rapidly. They sold out in five minutes.
"We didn't sell out our soft opening. We were close on the second day. But then Tuesday hit and we've just been sold out every day," Burnett said of how fast Mochi Joy has been selling out of its donuts.
"Now I'm at the point of selling out in 2 minutes," Nguyen added.
The life and business partners weren't prepared for the influx of business right from the jump. They say they're "bootstrapping" this business from the ground up.
Nguyen is a one-person team in the kitchen, for the time being, making 250 donuts every day. Burnett handles the orders, their digital needs, and everything else that comes with running a business, while Nguyen focuses solely on the donuts.
Burnett says they've seen tremendous support in Noblesville. From the VFW offering to rent their commercial kitchen to Mochi Joy to local social media influencers who have become regulars.
"The people here have been major supporters, big cheerleaders," Burnett said.
"I've gotten Japanese people to come, and other Asian people, saying like, 'I'm glad that there's an Asian business around here, and that it's gonna hopefully grow this community,'" Nguyen said.
Mochi Joy has already received requests from patrons for coffee, boba tea, Korean corn dogs, ice cream, and more. But, for right now, he's working to up the number of donuts he's making per day to about 300 and getting employees in the bakery.
Nguyen wants to hire a few team members to help bake more donuts but also, he says, to "have as much fun as I am."
"Once I can get enough revenue — because, again, I'm bootstrapping — to start looking for a place for my own brick and mortar somewhere. Whether that's inside of a grocery store, in an Asian grocery store," Nguyen said. "Or somewhere in downtown Noblesville, because I'm making my own place here in Noblesville."
WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.