Asianati's Last-Minute Gift Guide for 2023

JP Leong, Sam Burke

Dec 17, 2023

This Last-Minute Guide made with great gratitude to our contributors, testers, and models: Momoka Stroup, Lisa May, Khahn Le, Mint Kangsathien, Sydney Herkner, Jay Kalagayan, Sarah Kramer, Natalie Moo Young, Wajeeh Khan, Gabe DeVela, Mei-Lin Williams, and Viet Nguyen

We had a blast running around town finding our favorite last-minute gifts for our forever-BFFs. Since they already had (almost) everything from our first, second, and third last-minute gift guides we had to enlist the help of our office friends to source and, more importantly, test our gifts. It was a hard job.

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Cooks in the Kitchen

Despite how much we love going to local restaurants, the Asianati team loves to cook at home.
kim korean american copy.png Korean American by Eric Kim ($$ Joseph-Beth Booksellers)
Our PR Manager Lam recommends this as a “Good cookbook from a first-gen Korean American raised with Korean immigrant parents.”
kung kung food copy.png Kung Food by Jon Kung ($$ Joseph-Beth Booksellers)
Detroit-based chef Jon Kung has been making waves for his accessible and irresistible Chinese American recipes on Instagram.
cho mooncakes milk bread.png Mooncakes and Milk Bread by Kristina Cho ($$ Joseph-Beth Booksellers)
Kristina Cho holds a special place in Asianati’s heart, both as a University of Cincinnati-alum and as a two-times James Beard Award-winning content creator who has raised the prominence of mooncakes. Her first cookbook is a must-have.
kassis the palestinian table copy.png The Palestinian Table by Reem Kassis ($$ Joseph-Beth Booksellers)
NPR said Palestinian-American chef Reem Kassis sees “the kitchen as a "powerful place" where she could share important stories about food and culture with her daughter.”
ottolenghi simple copy.png Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi ($$ Joseph-Beth Booksellers)
One of our writers, Kate, had this to say about Ottolenghi: “His recipes are at once approachable and exciting, not to mention mouthwateringly photogenic.”
yee mama sauces copy.png Yee Mama’s Sauce Gift Basket ($$ Yee Mama’s / Findlay Kitchen)
Our friends rave about Yee Mama’s handmade Cantonese wontons you can cook at home but half the delight is in the sauces you dip and owner Dora Cheng has you covered. This Gift Basket connects you with three essential sauces to liven any dish.
ramen bowl.png (Very) Large Designated Bowl for Ramen or Pho ($ CAM/Dayou/V-Mart/Coko Sakula)
“When you want to dress-up your bowl of Pho or Ramen with tasty vegetables or proteins, nothing is more agitating than a bowl that can't fit all of that deliciousness and comfort. Enter a designated ramen bowl” Jenni, one of Asianati's project managers, tells us.
omsom noodles copy.png Omsom Saucy Noodles ($ Whole Foods/Target)
Our Social Media Manager Sam was "sold when I found out these Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai flavor noodles were made in collaboration with various Asian chefs & content creators like Nom Life!”

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Game Night

A wise man once said something to the effect of “you only get to really know someone if you compete with them” and what better way to compete with your friends than over a game night?
games steam up copy.png Steam Up ($$ Capstone Games)
This beautiful 2021 Ion Award-winning game is equipped with an actual Dim Sum turntable and is culturally authentic & educational. photograph.png Photograph ($ Capstone Games)
Billy, one of our Board members and president of FASO, calls this a “Fun little card game [from] Japan; the game has charming, quirky art. Its unique challenge restricts how cards enter and leave your hand.” When we went to Capstone games to find it, the store staff wouldn’t stop raving about it. Bonus points: it’s very inexpensive! games photograph before the guests copy.png Before the Guests Arrive ($$$ Capstone Games)
Capstone Games also has this game from the same publisher as Photograph but, because it’s an import, it’s a lot more expensive (and rare). Definitely a unique game for the gang.

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Milkis and Cookies

Another thing we love to do with our friends, especially during the holidays, is baking and decorating cookies. Of course, cookies are always associated with milk and milk is always associated with, um, Lactaid in the Asianati offices. So, we found some other drinks to keep us hydrated while we decorate. milkis 1 copy.png Milkis ($ Little Asiana/CAM/V-Mart)
One of our interns, Sydney, says “I like everything about Milkis. I like the carbonation a lot -I’m not a soda person but this is different: it’s not too sweet.” chi lychee 1.png Chi ($ CAM/V-Mart)
Chi offers some very light, refreshing flavors -our team especially liked the way lychee was presented. pocari sweat.png Pocari Sweat ($ Coko Sakula/CAM/Dayou)
We raved about this not-too-sweet sports drink in last year’s Holiday Gift Guide.

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Corner Curl-Up

Sometimes you need to take care of yourself. Maybe that’s taking a break from catching-up with your family and, instead, catching-up with a good book. joy matts bag copy.png Joy & Matt’s Canvas Shopping Bag ($$ Joy & Matt’s Books)
Joy and Matt share their love of books with their shop on Vine Street. This durable and practical shopping bag is enough to fit five-to-six of your favorite hard covers (we tried!).
cafe mochiko bag.png Cafe Mochiko Canvas Shopping Bag ($$ Cafe Mochiko)
For a limited time, this adorable shopping bag is available from Cafe Mochiko. Based on one of Elaine’s favorite candy boxes growing-up, this tote is a brilliant fashion accessory especially when paired with their baby blue Cafe Mochiko shirt.
hello honey bag 2 copy.png Hello Honey Canvas Shopping Bag ($$ Hello Honey)
Show off your love of all-things ice cream with this super-cute tote bag from Asian-owned Hello Honey.

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Root for the Home Team

We at Asianati love rooting for our home teams be they Bearcats, Bengals, Musketeers, Norse, Redhawks, or Gary. And, wouldn’t you know, we also love repping our favorite local restaurants & businesses! Here are some of their swag:
gordos hoodie copy.png Gordo’s Hoodie ($$ Gordo’s Pub) gordos hat copy.png Gordo’s Hat ($ Gordo’s Pub) deans hoodie.png Dean’s Hoodie ($$ Dean’s Mediterranean) deans beanie.png Dean’s Beanie ($ Dean’s Mediterranean) joy n matts books shirt copy.png Joy & Matt’s Shirt ($$ Joy & Matt’s Books)
cafe mochiko shirt.png Baby Blue Cafe Mochiko Shirt ($$ Cafe Mochiko)
manga manga shirt copy.png Manga Manga Shirt ($$ Manga Manga)

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Girls’ Night In

The next time you’re in with your besties, try these products from some of our team’s favorite Asian-owned beauty brands.
fable mane kulti.png Fable & Mane Healthy Hair Heroes box set ($$$ Sephora)
Carenna raves about this Indian-owned brand of products: “I love Fable & Mane! Everything is so nourishing and I appreciate the focus on Ayurvedic concepts.” peach and lily copy.png Peach & Lily Glass Skin Discovery Kit ($$$ Ulta)
If you’re new to Korean skin-care, this is a great travel size starter kit.
kulfi tiny.png Kulfi Beauty Eyeliner 2-on-1 ($$ Sephora)
This South Asian brand’s products come in a range of vibrant, highly pigmented colors that pop regardless of skin tone. naturium lotion copy.png Naturium Retinol Body Lotion ($$ Target)
This retinol-packed body lotion is great for dealing with dry skin in the winter.
bear.png Rilakkuma Plush animal ($$ Coko Sakula)
trash panda copy.png Honeymaru Red Panda from Kimyona-Land Plush animal ($$ Coko Sakula) headband hk copy.png Hello Kitty headband ($ Ulta) eye mask hk.png Hello Kitty Eye Masks ($ Ulta) socks hk copy.png Hello Kitty Socks ($ CAM) hair management HK copy.png Hello Kitty Hair Brush Kit ($$ Costco)
BeachPlease_20Dream_20Hour.png Tower 28 Beauty BeachPlease Lip+Cheek Cream Blush ($$ Sephora)
This popular Asian-owned clean beauty brand specially formulates their products to be safe for sensitive skin.

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Comics and Manga lovers rejoice! Cincinnati has a thriving local scene of comic, manga, and graphic novel shops -not to mention a very fun annual Comic Expo. comics.png Messed Comics ($-$$)
A staff-favorite series is MeSseD comics, created by Filipino-American Jay Kalagayan, which centers around an Asian hero fighting it out in the seedy (literal) underworld. (full disclosure: Jay is on the Board of Asianati and is the executive director of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus).

Gift Exchange / Hidden gems

ronny chieng tix copy.jpg Ronny Chieng Tickets ($$
Asian American comedians have hit some amazing highs recently. We’ve loved seeing the likes of Atsuko Okatsuka and Sheng Wang in their own specials but seeing them live is even better. “It’s an experience you can do together,” says Mei-Lin, PR Coordinator. gift cards mochiko joy matts copy.png Gift Cards ($-$$$)
Gift cards are always a quick, easy but thoughtful way of sharing. Most area restaurants and businesses have them (including most of the retailers we’ve covered in this guide).
lucky cat banks copy.png Lucky Cat Money Banks ($$ Lucky Cat Museum)
Whether you have that someone who needs someplace to store their precious collection of Anna May Wong quarters (ahem mom…) or want a fabulously cute companion for their office desk, these porcelain Money Banks from the Lucky Cat museum are the purrrfect gift. Can you find them scattered around this article?