My single favorite Korean pastry, chal sook hoduk, is plentiful and easy to find throughout pockets of Los Angeles. Here in New York City, however, we are sorely deprived of this blessing. It encompasses mochi, pastry, and red bean paste, all into a single creation. You can imagine my delight when, after two years of living in Manhattan, I came across it at Cafe Ele on 32nd Street.
Large and flat, these differed from slightly the version I'm used to. The mochi and red bean paste are mixed together making for red bean paste with a mochi-esque texture, all tucked into a light pastry cover. In the traditional version, you'll find three distinct layers: first, the red bean paste, then mochi, and finally, the bread-like pastry shell.
Ele's take was not as good as those on the West Coast, but they'll do for now. Those interested in a Japanese version of this pastry are advise to dash over to Cafe Zaiya for yakimochi where the dough is not baked, but grilled. A completely different sensation.
43 West 32nd St #33, New York NY 10001 (map)