Asianati's Last-Minute Gift Guide For 2022
Dec 06, 2022
Asianati’s Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide
By JP Leong, Sam Burke, and Sarah Kramer.
“This year’s gonna be different…” he says.
“This year I’m gonna do better -I’m gonna shop earlier and have all my gifts ready before December.”
And here we are.
In a fit of panic, our Gift-Guide Giver (Gift-Guider?) realized that he possessed neither the time nor talent to procure the finest last-minute gifts to deliver to you, dear reader. So, what skill does our Gift-Guide Gnostic actually have to muster in his galant defense? The power of delegation! With utmost haste, the Gift-Getter messaged the Givingist, Graciousist, Joyfulist group he knew and… the group responded! Around town they went, to-and-fro, from high to low to find what can only be described as the Greatest Group Gift-Guide ever assembled by Asianati. Combined with those amassed in the previous editions of the Last-Minute Gift Guide (HERE and HERE), dear readers now have the penultimate list for everyone*!
For the sweet-fiend on the hunt for new flavors: White Rabbit 100 Milk Candy
A favorite with Chinese kids everywhere, the original White Rabbit takes its inspiration from classic English milk chews but puts them in a memorable rice-paper wrapper on the inside and a bright red, white, and blue color scheme on the outside. The vanilla-milk flavor is quite different from any vanilla or white chocolate in American candies as is the softens-in-your-mouth texture. This makes it a great gift for the friend who loves all kinds of sweets -this’ll be one they probably haven’t tried. And for those who already wax nostalgic for White Rabbit, we spotted these modern flavors (Tiramisu, Matcha, and Creamy) of White Rabbit 100 in super-cute, super-giftable “milk jar” packaging at V-Mart. And bonus points… 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit.
For your friend who likes a sweet mystery: Tiger Sugar Black Sugar Milk Egg Roll
Okay, we admit it. We grabbed the Tiger Sugar Black Sugar Milk Egg Roll right off the shelf at Dayou International Market completely based on the fact that it was in a nice box (“Wow, that’s a nice box” “Let’s get it” “Okay!”). We didn’t even know what was in the box. As it turns out Tiger Sugar, known for their Brown Sugar Bubble Milk Tea, has transformed their most popular flavor into a classic creme-filled egg roll cookie. Without doubt these cookies are a sweet crunch but… let’s go back to the box! It’s such a nice box. What’s inside the box? Your friend will have to open it to find out.
For your friends who like the worm in their mezcal: Korean Ginseng Drink by Assi
Legion are the prescribed benefits of ginseng: from mind-sharpening to immune-system booster to helping you get-up to helping you get-up. Ginseng drinks are popular in tea or crystalized packet forms but none are as unique and exciting as these Korean Ginseng Drink by Assi we found chilling on the shelf at V-Mart. This is absolutely one of the more visually interesting things you could give and the packaging does, indeed, encourage you to consume the whole thing -root and all.
For the athlete who actually prefers “not too sweet”: Pocari Sweat
In much of Asia, you’d be hard-pressed to find Gatorade or Powerade on market shelves. Instead, Pocari Sweat is the drink of choice to replenish after a workout. We scoured Dayou International Market for this six pack of the famous Japanese Sport Drink after a non-Asian friend asked us if we had any; he prefers the light, less-sweet citrus flavor of Pocari Sweat.
For the snackercurious: Assorted snacks
Every time we visit the snack aisle at our favorite Asian grocers, there’s always something different and intriguing. Surprisingly, American snack companies make great exciting flavors for the Asian market and, thankfully, a lot of those make their way over to the U.S. At V-Mart, We found Ritz crackers like you’ve probably never had them before along with three very eyebrow-raising flavors of Lays (from left-to-right: purple-potato + coconut, rosewater, and avocado + sweet mustard). Not to be outdone, we found Koala’s March in butter (!) and mango flavors.
For your mama who you just spent all that money on loose-leaf tea last year: Tea bags in tins
While we do love our loose-leaf teas, tea in bags are always a welcome gift -especially when they come in tins as beautiful as these we found at V-Mart. Don’t be surprised if you find your mama repurposing the tin once all the tea’s been sipped.
For your friend who wishes they could snuggle-up with a mug of hot cocoa but they actually hate chocolate: Honey Concentrate
No doubt, your friend will think you’ve given them fancy marmalade from V-Mart.
No doubt, your friend will look at you with sanity-questioning eyes when you tell them to take a spoonful of said-fancy marmalade and add it to a mug of hot water.
No doubt, your friend will react with surprise at the delicious fancy marmalade drink you’ve just introduced them to.
For the friend who pushes up on their glasses and insists on “authentic”: Haw Flakes
Made from the Hawthorn berry, Haw Flakes are a classic Chinese candy that are still made very much in the same style as when they were first introduced: small disks like Necco Wafers in size but softer and not chalky, in a wrapper that looks like old-school firecrackers. The disks have a tendency to clump or fuse together while in their packaging -all part of the charm of these very old candies. Haw Flakes are pretty common in more Chinese-oriented Asian Markets and we picked these up at Dayou.
For that friend who starts baby-talking at every animal they see: Egg Cake Paws
These single-serve cakes are shaped like cute bear paws and have a buttery flavor similar to pound-cake but a much fluffier consistency. We don't know why the bear on the packaging looks so sad... these cakes are the pawfect little pick-me-up!
For the meat connoisseur: Japanese Barbecue Sauce
This is one of those serendipitous finds at Costco (specifically, the newly opened Liberty Township location) but, just like in times past, new sauces are always a way for the cooks in your life to experience something novel and exciting. This Japanese Barbecue Sauce is a bit like a light teriyaki sauce that isn’t overpowering and works well with most meats.
For the friend(s) who keep telling you they’ll learn to use chopsticks… someday: Learner Chopsticks
While we can’t really vouch for the efficacy of these for their stated purpose, we CAN vouch that they are cheap, easily found, and ridiculously cute. We picked these up at V-Mart but almost any store that has chopsticks will have something like this. Makes for a great ornament in your tree, too.
For your friend’s kids who need to learn fiscal responsibility: Jelly Cups in animal piggy banks
Jelly Cups are a modern Asian candy fixture that, if you haven’t had them, you just have to try. It’s kind of hard to describe what to expect -it’s kind of like gelatin in a cup but you don’t use a spoon: you suck. It’s a bit jarring the first time but, with a bit of practice, gets pretty addicting. Fruit flavors are most common but dessert/candy flavors are also plentiful. Each of the markets we visited even had Jelly Cups in very cute piggy-bank style packaging.
Bonus! The Asianati Fan in your life!
The Asianati team put together this li'l curated selection as a thank-you for donating to our cause! Some delightful snacks, some cute random toys, and a handy little bag with the Asianati logo so you can show the world just how much you love Asian food in Cincinnati!
Donate HERE to get your bag.
Styling by Sam Burke, Sarah Kramer, Mei-lin Williams, Viet Nguyen.
Photos by JP Leong.
Top Image: All the things