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Mochi Ball Makin' in San Francisco | How to Use AirBnB Experiences

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

Last week my mom, dad, and I were in San Francisco. Little life update— I’ve taken a remote job in admissions with the University of California San Diego! My training was in the Bay Area and we used it as an excuse to explore SF.

Whenever I travel, I am always looking for ways to emerge myself in local culture and have authentic experiences. Airbnb has an amazing experience feature that is gaining traction quickly and aimed at giving travelers a memorable experience in addition to a sweet place to stay.

As an avid Airbnb user, I have stayed at over 20 AirBnBs stretching from México to France. And I love it! It is an awesome way to get a home away from home feel. For me, when traveling, I have to have my own kitchen and coffee maker— hotel coffee and continental breakfasts just don’t do the trick.

Over the next few months, I am going to try Airbnb experiences around the globe. First stop: San Francisco. And after that I’m headed to Madrid, Spain and later in December I’ll be in Budapest, Hungary.


How to Use Airbnb Experiences:

Airbnb experience is a feature that offers to travelers wanting to experience a city in a new way. The site boasts over 30,000 unique experiences put on by local guides, with no Airbnb rental required.

They offer a vast range of experiences, from cooking classes, photography sessions, literature, religion, hiking, art, food tours, you name it! I have been floored by the offerings I’ve seen.

Booking an experience is super simple. You can use the Airbnb website or mobile app to book an experience. When you open the website or app, look for the experiences section. Then, choose a specific city and dates, or browse through all experiences. You don’t have to have a home booked on Airbnb in order to book an experience and availability is set by each individual host.


Airbnb Experience in San Francisco

"Make Japanese Mochi with an Instructor"

The last few times I’ve traveled home to New Mexico to see my parents, my mom has offered us mochi for dessert. She loves it! Mochi has taken off in the states, I had never seen it as a kid, but now I see it in most health food stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes and now even in City Market.

When I was looking at Airbnb for things to do in San Francisco, this one popped up and I knew I had to take my mom. This was my very first Airbnb experience. I’ve seen it advertised on Airbnb for a while, and I finally got curious enough to book an experience.

We showed up to Yukiko’s house half an hour late to a two-hour class due to Bay Area traffic, we felt so bad! But Yukiko was gracious and stayed half an hour later with us. In our class, it was only my mom and me, and another girl who had signed up.

We each had our own cooking section set up for us with a rolling board, utensils, and lots of mochi stuffing treats. Yukiko, our host, was part of a mother-daughter duo that designed this particular experience. Yukiko immigrated to California from Japan and her daughter is currently publishing a book on mochi.

Yukiko showed us how to make the dough, which is simply mochiko, water, and sugar in most cases— it is then heated up and kneaded. It gets super icky sticky, so you lay corn starch down on the table and have to cover your hands. You roll out and mold the dough into a flat circle and carefully stuff it with whatever treats you want. We put fruit and peanut butter cups in ours, and to get them to stick together Yukiko made a red bean paste with sugar. After you close it up, you dust off the corn starch with a brush and voila! The mochi is ready to eat. We also really loved the ones with ice cream.

This is a super fun and creative way to make a dessert. We made regular, green tea and rosewater mochi. My mom and I can take these recipes home and make it for our family and friends. It really was a different experience. It felt homey and authentic.

Thank you, Yukiko!


"Certified Mochi Expert"

Tips on Booking from a Frequent User:

  1. Save the places you like for later. Airbnb has a great feature that allows you to group your finds. This makes it easy to find later. It is easy to lose an experience!

  2. Utilize the “lists” feature. If you look in my account you’ll see oodles of lists like Honeymoon 2019, Madrid, Budapest, Santorini. I love to save items into my wish lists, and when you finally find a few it's great to group them and be able to compare and contrast.

  3. Don’t be afraid to ask. This mochi ball experience was actually showing unavailable on the booking calendar during the dates I’d be there with my mom. So I just reached out to Yukiko, and told her how interested I was. So she opened the day up just for us! Ask and you shall receive.

  4. Read the reviews. This app does an awesome job of collecting the thoughts of the participants. Read what people have to say and you’ll walk into the experience with a pretty good idea of what you’re going to get. Also, leave a thoughtful review— it helps the rest of us.

If you're new to Airbnb, get $15 off of a $50 or more experience by using my link:

Stay tuned! Later this month, I will go on a private photo mission with a local photographer in Madrid. Then later, in December Rasmus, Adela, and I will be headed to Budapest to experience a real authentic “fat boy food tour,” and a “beer bath,” I will pop back here to update on my findings!


Quick Mochi Recipe for Mochi Icecream

(using a microwave) makes 10 pieces

by Yukiko Zinke


1 cup mochiko flour

1 cup of water 1⁄4 cup-1/2 cup sugar

1 cup of corn starch

Method: ​Mix well, and put in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Take out the mixture and stir and mash with a spoon or stick. Microwave the mixture again for another 2 minutes. Stir again, and take mochi mixture out. Cover your cutting board with lots of corn starch.

Put the mochi mass on top of the corn starch, and then some on top of the mochi. Using a rolling pin, roll out the mochi until 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2-inch square pieces, and use these pieces to wrap around the mochi ice cream balls.


1 Comment

My grandma used to make mochi using her "mochi maker" and it was soo delicious. She would prepare it savory though, we would put it in a frying pan to heat and crisp it up and then wrap it in seaweed and pour soy sauce over it! It was so yummy. The small mochi balls at froyo shops have also become a favorite of mine. Such a cool experience you can cherish with your mom! <3

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