Mochi ice cream is a fusion dessert that binds the traditional Japanese dessert—mochi (rice cake)—with the quintessential American dessert—ice cream. Its roots can be traced to Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, where feisty Japanese pastry chef Frances Hashimoto invented, distributed and later marketed the wrapped ice cream balls to big-name American supermarkets.

Making mochi ice cream is simple. Sweet rice powder is made into dough, cooled and rolled out into round sheets. These round sheets are then carefully molded around balls of ice cream and frozen for later use. Eating mochi ice cream is a dynamic experience. Fine sugar dusting provides traction to the mouth while the gummy layer and biting cold ice cream have textures that mutate as they thaw.

One local restaurant, Jimbo’s, which opened last August, is bringing the artistry of mochi to San Jose’s Japantown. Jimbo’s carries 10-plus flavors of mochi ice cream, all through the distributor “Bubbies,” one of the leading producers, located in Hawaii. The treat can be ordered in increments—three pieces ($4.95), six pieces ($8.95) and 12 pieces ($14.95)—and are served inside on bamboo slims.

All the ones I sampled had that mocha mouth feel, but some were especially distinctive. The chocolate chip coconut was a standout. The chocolate with coconut filling, as in a box of See’s, had tendrils of dried coconut that can seem chalky in the mouth, which made for a nice departure from the norm while still retaining the essence of the classic flavor combination. The chocolate outside was delicate and semisweet; the coconut ice cream was velvety and ripe with specks of coconut meat. Also memorable was the lychee, with a perfect level of burst and linger; and the guava, which provided a gentle translation of the taste of the fruit.

For those who want something cold for dessert but not necessarily mochi, Jimbo’s serves Marianne’s ice cream from Santa Cruz. It’s one of the only places to offer such a wide selection without the drive over the hill. Insider’s tip: Try it with Jimbo’s special “Kurogoma” sesame seed sauce, an Asian rendition of caramel that adds vibrancy to the current sweet-salty trend.

Jimbo’s also offers “made from scratch” comfort food items ($6-$7) and beer, for only 3 bucks or so. I tried the Jimbo dog ($6.95), which is similar to a spam musubi but with a hot dog (or hot link). You can also order a hot dog with chili, fritos or cream cheese. A lot of nostalgic, kid-friendly references there—if mochi and ice cream weren’t already alluring whimsicalities.

170 Jackson St., San Jose; 408.271.9588