Home News Cha Papi brings mochi-doughnuts, taiyaki ice cream to Hartford area

Cha Papi brings mochi-doughnuts, taiyaki ice cream to Hartford area

by Celia

Brian Keo and Shirley Wong, inspired by their travels and a desire to introduce unique Asian desserts to the greater Hartford area, opened Cha Papi in West Hartford. To their surprise, their mochi doughnuts quickly gained popularity, attracting long lines and causing early closings due to product sellouts.

The couple met while studying at UConn and decided to bring their passion for Asian sweets and tea to their native Connecticut. They selected a location in the Shield Street Plaza, which Keo refers to as “West Hartford’s Chinatown” due to its proximity to other Asian businesses.

Although Keo anticipated that Cha Papi’s clientele would mainly consist of people of Asian descent, he has been delighted to see a diverse customer base. People from all backgrounds come in and enjoy the food, regardless of their culture or skin color.

The idea for mochi doughnuts came after Keo and Wong sampled them at Mitsuwa Marketplace, a Japanese grocery store. Mochi doughnuts, a fusion of American doughnuts and Japanese mochi, have a light, chewy, and crispy texture due to the use of glutinous rice flour in the recipe. Cha Papi’s version includes both glutinous flour and a small amount of wheat flour, making them not gluten-free.

The rice flour-based dough eliminates the need for proofing time, making it easier to produce additional batches if necessary.

Each week, Cha Papi offers mochi doughnuts in six different flavors, all featuring housemade glazes made from fresh ingredients. While they typically include Asian-inspired flavors like coconut ube, matcha, pandan, Thai tea, and Vietnamese coffee, the couple and their staff enjoy getting creative with flavors such as caramel churro, pumpkin spice, red velvet, Biscoff, and chocolate Oreo.

In addition to doughnuts, Cha Papi serves taiyaki, a waffle-like pastry filled with red bean paste or custard, accompanied by soft-serve ice cream and various toppings. The ice cream flavors rotate and may include options like ube, Thai tea, matcha, and black sesame.

Cha Papi’s beverage menu offers assorted milk teas, matcha and hojicha lattes, and espresso options such as dirty black sesame latte and dirty ube latte. Toppings like boba, grass jelly, lychee jellies, and chia seeds are available to enhance the drinks’ texture and flavor.

With their innovative flavors, dedication to quality ingredients, and a passion for bringing diverse communities together through food, Brian Keo and Shirley Wong have created a thriving and delicious destination at Cha Papi in West Hartford.

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