Benkyodo in Japantown – Confections That Win Affections


Benkyodo San Francisco mochi manju

Benkyodo’s slogan reads, “Confections that win affections,” and they’ve definitely won me over many times. The Japanese confectionery specializes in fresh mochi and manju, which are made daily by hand.

It’s easy to confuse mochi for manju, but the difference is actually pretty simple:

  • Mochi – a sticky rice cake that is made from pounding steamed mochi rice
  • Manju – usually made from flour, rice powder, and buckwheat, with a red bean or white bean paste filling

Benkyodo San Francisco mochi manju

They have a wide variety of flavors that rotate daily, so each visit is different from the last. They always have seasonal fresh fruit flavors, so make sure to always grab a couple of those! If they have strawberry or blueberry, those are my favorite! The blueberry in particular lets out a burst of cool juice when you bite into it.

The red bean filling in the manju is smooth and sweet, while the white bean filling is not as sweet. I prefer the red bean filling over the white. The Age, which is a sweet cake donut rolled in sugar and filled with red bean paste is also very good.  It’s chewy and not too sweet, with most of the sweetness coming from the sugar.

I like almost all of the mochi and manju selections, except one. Peanut butter mochi. It sounded good at first, becuase I love peanut butter and I love mochi, but it just doesn’t work. The soft, chewy, and sweet mochi rice doesn’t compliment the gooey peanut butter in both flavor and texture.

Benkyodo San Francisco mochi manju

What makes Benkyodo even more remarkable are their dirt cheap prices. Most pieces are only $1 with a few others being only $1.25-1.50 each.

You can find Benkyodo in Japantown, in the same plaza as Korean restaurant, bar, and karaoke lounge Playground. It’s also opposite the plaza where you can find Pika Pika, if you feel like taking crazy Japanese teen girl sticker pictures. Unfortunately, they aren’t open as late as Playground, and close at 5:00pm every day. They are closed on Sundays.

Benkyodo is truly one of my favorite gems of San Francisco. It’s a family owned and operated business that has been around since 1906. Yes, that’s over 100 years in business, dating back to the year of The Great Quake. It’s the type of place where you feel the recipe hasn’t changed much in 100 years, and the service is definitely old-world style friendly.

1747 Buchanan Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 922-1244

Photos: Flickr

Also check out:
Playground Restaurant and Karaoke Bar in Japantown
Pika Pika in Japantown
Java On Ocean in Ingleside
John Colins Bar in SOMA
Kezar Pub & Restaurant in the Haight
Laszlo Bar in the Mission; Communists Invade SF
Lolo Tapas and Wine Bar in the Mission
New School Food Peddler – The Magic Curry Kart
Place Pigalle Bar in Hayes Valley
Thailand Restaurant in the Castro; Best Restaurant Name Ever
Tia Margarita in the Outer Richmond


2 Responses to “Benkyodo in Japantown – Confections That Win Affections”

  1. Nom nom nommy! I want! And ewwwie penis butter mochi? No senku! I say me you and lyss reunite and have a serious pika pika session! MUAHAHAHA!


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