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Gary Tanigawa

Omiyagi

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There is a Japanese custom of gift giving when someone returns from a trip. In Hawaii, however, this custom was not restricted to those of Japanese ancestry. The traveler purchased a specialty of the place visited (usually food) and gave it to family, friends or coworkers at home when s/he returned (like a shared souvenir of the trip).

When I visit Hawaii now, I purchase castella cake from Bunmeido bakery for a native Japanese friend living in No. Virginia. I recall my mother usually bringing home manju from Maui and cookies from Kauai. In the '60s, I remember relatives bringing See's candy ( :wub: !) from California. More recently, they were bringing Ethel M's candy from Las Vegas (now there is a store in Ala Moana).

Since I have been gone from Hawaii for more than 20 years, I was wondering whether there are any consensus choices for omiyagi now: food (especially snacks) which can be easily transported on an interisland flight and are considered a specialty of the island/place visited. What have you brought back as omiyagi recently?

edit: I forgot to ask, do you think omiyagi should be restricted in its distribution so that it is not normally available where you live? It seemed to be an important consideration for my mother in choosing what to bring home.


Edited by Gary Tanigawa (log)

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I think the question is harder to answer now than it was 20 years ago, in part because improved transportation methods and more sophisticated marketing mean that regionally popular goods very quickly become available elsewhere (and eventually are even made elsewhere, like aloha shirts). That being said there are still specialties that are associated with each island as omiyage, both general categories of food that may be produced at a number of places or specific products of one shop or another.

Here is a short list - sorry, don't have time right now to go into more detail, but will try to add descriptions of each later. . .

Maui seems to be dominant somehow in the omiyage field:

Kobayashi Family's Maui Kitch'n Cook'd Potato Chips (counter to globalization - these are increasingly difficult to find outside of Maui)

Shishido Manju (unfortunately now closed)

Crispy Manju from Home Maid Bakery

Azuki Pie from T. Komoda Store

Tasaka Guri-guri

Azeka's Kalbi Ribs

Dry Mein from Sam Sato's; Noodles for it from Iwamoto Natto Factory

Maui Hot Dogs (long gone - but various copies live on - e.g. Redondo's Hot Dogs in Waipahu)

Big Island:

O.K. the most obvious things are Hamakua Macadamia Nuts and Kona Coffee, but you can get those anywhere.

Loco Moco from Cafe 100 (O.K. forget about carrying it home unless you're really loco)

Mochi from Two Ladies kitchen

What else is distinctive?

Kauai:

Hamura Saimin - you can disassemble and carry back the ingredients. . .

Kauai Kookies (though you can even get that at Long's Drugs in Honolulu)

Molokai:

Filled Breads from Kanemitsu Bakery

Anything else I missed?


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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even though you can get a lot of things anywhere i like to bring back:

kaki mochi

li hing mui or other crack seed products

lemon peel

hawaiian red salt/rock salt

and the usual mac nuts and chocolate covered mac nuts - even though you can get them anywhere, people still appreciate it and they know that they really came fresh from the islands :smile: .

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Sun-Ki: nice list. Thanks. I also recall people bringing sherbert back from Maui (I guess they used dry ice?), but don't remember the source. I'm surprised that Kitch'n Cook'd is not widely available on Oahu because I think it was being stocked in many places when I still lived there. Perhaps production has been cut.

I don't understand the popularity of Kauai Kookies. Had them sent to me in "care packages" when I was in college and didn't think they were very good.

Recently, I've enjoyed Hawaiian sweetbread that my father buys from a bakery in Halawa valley.

alanamoana: Hawaiian red salt from Hanapepe, Kauai? My grandfather lived near the salt ponds and thought it was the best. Thanks for reminding me that I need to get limu kohu (seaweed) and 'inamona (kukui nut) on my next trip to Hawaii, so I can make poke on the mainland.

edit: typo corrected


Edited by Gary Tanigawa (log)

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i paddled outrigger in san francisco for four years...one of my teammates would always make poke for our gatherings, that is, if i got the tuna at my restaurant "discount"...meaning, the tuna guy was from hawaii and extending the aloha spirit would always give me a price lower than he would charge the restaurant! it was great! wow, i miss those days.

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Sun-Ki: nice list. Thanks. I also recall people bringing sherbert back from Maui (I guess they used dry ice?), but don't remember the source.

Recently, I've enjoyed Hawaiian sweetbread that my father buys from a bakery in Halawa valley.

edit: typo corrected

guri guri! a mix of 7up, ice cream (strawberry for example), and sweet condensed milk I think.

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"Poha Berry Ice" Cream

Fresh "Weke" from Tamishiros Market.

Live Whole LARGE "Samoan Crab". [i have recurrent dreams about this]

From Memory Lane a "Willows Coconut Cream Pie".

Live "Kona Crabs"

Hawaiian "Red Shrimp" with Fat.

Cold "Ginger Chicken" from the McCully Chop Suey

A bag of traditional Leonards Bakery, "Malasadas".

Assortment of "Crack Seeds". with only Island Favorites.

Please provide my list to all Seattle visitors who are interested in a special dinner, plus pick up and delivery service from the Airport with a minimum of talking story.

Everyone whom I know stops in Seattle on the way back to the Islands.

Irwin :raz::wink::biggrin:


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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rlivings: That's it, Tasaka Guri-Guri in Kahalui (I found an online Star-Bulletin story). The recipe is supposed to be a secret!

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Irwin: I didn't appreciate the crabs available in Hawaii until I moved to Virginia. I'm not a fan of Chesapeake blue crabs unless they're made into a crab cake.

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Thanks Sun-Ki, that's the place. Have you tried the fruit-filled breads? Not sure if it sounds like a good idea. Anyway, if mailed, they would probably spoil because of the moisture.

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Especially in recent years, due to the slow economy on the Big Island, many people supplement their income with homemade foods and handmade craft items. I think some people are happy to keep their products out of wide distribution, relying on the omiyage concept. These aren't necessarily the consensus picks, but things I often bring back from the Big Island:

  • small producer 100% Kona coffee or Kona blends
    Mountain View Stone cookies
    mac nut pie (like a pecan pie)
    Atebara's Taro Chips, Crunchies, etc
    Maebo's One Ton chips
    Punalu'u Sweet Bread
    Big Island Candies - cookies & chocolates - pricey, but tasty and smart packaging
    KTA's house brand of ohelo berry jam & other products, and evaporated deep water sea salt from the ocean thermal project in Kona

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. . .
  • small producer 100% Kona coffee or Kona blends
    Mountain View Stone cookies
    mac nut pie (like a pecan pie)
    Atebara's Taro Chips, Crunchies, etc
    Maebo's One Ton chips
    Punalu'u Sweet Bread
    Big Island Candies - cookies & chocolates - pricey, but tasty and smart packaging
    KTA's house brand of ohelo berry jam & other products, and evaporated deep water sea salt from the ocean thermal project in Kona

I knew I had neglected a lot of stuff from the big island! Atebara and Maebo rank with Kitch'n Cook'd and Yick Lung Nibbits as big "chips" in Hawai`i.

Sadly, I haven't been able to find One Ton chips in Honolulu anymore ever since the Maebo factory burnt down. I keep on checking their web site but it doesn't even mention the fire, much less when they are going back in production.


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Irwin: I didn't appreciate the crabs available in Hawaii until I moved to Virginia. I'm not a fan of Chesapeake blue crabs unless they're made into a crab cake.

Gary:

I lived in Honolulu for years before I learned that the smalled longer legs "Blue Pincher Crabs" that I used to catch in the canal behind my house in Hawaii Kai were a different species of the East Coast Blue Crab. Thought that was just the way they grew in Hawaii, until I compared them with a batch I purchased live from Tamishiros Market.

The local crabs were two small to eat my way, but were excellent bait for "Papio", "Ulua", "Awa" or "Oio".

I'm sure glad that the supply of Kona Crab is only sufficient for local consumption, but the Wild Samoan Crab that is rarely caught seems evasive except on the saltwater ponds on the south shore, where they may eventually find a way to cultivate them since this is appearently being done in Asia for similar species.

My wife was once presented for her birthday with a 7 1/2 pound Samoan Crab by Walter Tamishiro that she steamed and spent hours carefully eating, keeping the shell intact. Carefully put the Shell outside on our Lanai on top of a Cabinet so that it would dry out and she could save it for display. When we woke up in the morning it was all over the Lani, after having been discovered by either Cats, Birds, Rats or Mongooses but they sure tried their best to find something to eat, but all she left them was the smell.

I hope you have the opportunity to try "Soft Shell" or "Buster" Blue Crabs as they are very delicious. Lump Blue Crab Meat if fresh picked is better then almost every other variety of crab to my taste.

Irwin :biggrin:


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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From Memory Lane a "Willows Coconut Cream Pie".

I checked the web site for the revived Willows Restaurant, and there's no mention of the Willows Coconut Cream Pie on their ala carte menu! So Sad.

Here's what they have:

  • MOLTEN CHOCOLATE CAKE
  • TRIPLE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE SWIRL
  • LAVA FLOW - "Vanilla bean ice cream with a warm haupia sauce and drizzled with a tangy raspberry sauce. Garnished with fresh berries and a mint sprig."
  • VANILLA BEAN CRÈME BRULEE
  • SEASONAL SORBET
  • CHEESECAKE WITH STRAWBERRY/MANGO COMPOTE

Boring . . . Maybe the coconut cream pie is still on the buffet menu. . . Maybe they thought it wasn't "nouvelle" enough for their carte. . .

Cold "Ginger Chicken" from the McCully Chop Suey

Fortunately, McCully Chop Suey is still there. Though I haven't checked, I'm pretty sure the Ginger Chicken is still on the menu. . .

A bag of traditional Leonards Bakery, "Malasadas".

SweetWillie started a thread about Leonard's a while back.

Assortment of "Crack Seeds". with only Island Favorites.

Nowadays li hing mui has become so dominant, and they "li hing" everything. Li hing gummy worms, etc. :huh:


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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. . . I'm surprised that Kitch'n Cook'd is not widely available on Oahu because I think it was being stocked in many places when I still lived there. Perhaps production has been cut.

Gary, it's a mystery to me why Maui Kitch'n Cook'd are not more widely available. After Dewey Kobayashi landed on the cover of Gannett's Parade Magazine in 1980, Kitch'n Cook'd Potato Chips for a while became Hawai`i's most famous food export. Even today, many of the nationally distributed potato chip brand carry a thicker style of chip under the "Maui-style" or "Maui" label. The Kobayashis are one of the few small producers in the world that can truthfully claim to have created an entire category of food.

In addition, there seem to be several companies around the U.S. nowadays that called themselves "Kitch'n Cook'd", none of them associated with the Kobayashi family. There's a "Furukawa Kitch'n Cook'd" on the Big Island and a "Kitch'n Cook'd" listed for Massillon, Ohio (you can tell, I've been searching the web). Most mysteriously, there's a web site for a potato chip company called "Kitch'n Cook'd" in Staunton, Virginia in which the company claims to have been in business for 50 years! I have a hard time believing that Kobayashi would have copied his brand name from an obscure company in Virginia, so I presume the all these similarly-named companies have at one time or another acquired the "Kitch'n Cook'd" name as a way of acquiring some of the fame of the original company. I wonder if this is because no one had the time or inclination to copyright the name, or a case of one company licensing the name from another.

At any rate, this shows that the name still has considerable cachet and demand, so why aren't the original Maui chips being sold everywhere? If I get up enough courage, maybe I'll contact the company and ask. . .


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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. . . I'm surprised that Kitch'n Cook'd is not widely available on Oahu because I think it was being stocked in many places when I still lived there. Perhaps production has been cut.

Gary, it's a mystery to me why Maui Kitch'n Cook'd are not more widely available. After Dewey Kobayashi landed on the cover of Gannett's Parade Magazine in 1980, Kitch'n Cook'd Potato Chips for a while became Hawai`i's most famous food export. Even today, many of the nationally distributed potato chip brand carry a thicker style of chip under the "Maui-style" or "Maui" label. The Kobayashis are one of the few small producers in the world that can truthfully claim to have created an entire category of food.

In addition, there seem to be several companies around the U.S. nowadays that called themselves "Kitch'n Cook'd", none of them associated with the Kobayashi family. There's a "Furukawa Kitch'n Cook'd" on the Big Island and a "Kitch'n Cook'd" listed for Massillon, Ohio (you can tell, I've been searching the web). Most mysteriously, there's a web site for a potato chip company called "Kitch'n Cook'd" in Staunton, Virginia in which the company claims to have been in business for 50 years! I have a hard time believing that Kobayashi would have copied his brand name from an obscure company in Virginia, so I presume the all these similarly-named companies have at one time or another acquired the "Kitch'n Cook'd" name as a way of acquiring some of the fame of the original company. I wonder if this is because no one had the time or inclination to copyright the name, or a case of one company licensing the name from another.

At any rate, this shows that the name still has considerable cachet and demand, so why aren't the original Maui chips being sold everywhere? If I get up enough courage, maybe I'll contact the company and ask. . .

Sun-Ki:

If i'm not mistaken the labels on all the original "Kitch'n Cook'd" chip packages attributed a mainland company with the origin of their Kettle method. It may have been mentioned in some articles published about the Chips previously

It essentially assertained that the Potatoes were stored to specific brix and fried in small batches with the potatoes being sliced and chilled before Kettle Frying.

Irwin


Edited by wesza (log)

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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So perhaps the idea was taken from the Virginia company after all?!! :shock:

Then perhaps those kind of chips should actually be called "Shenandoah-style"?


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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So perhaps the idea was taken from the Virginia company after all?!! :shock:

Then perhaps those kind of chips should actually be called "Shenandoah-style"?

Sun-Ki:

Pretty sure it wasn't a Virginia Company. I remember traveling on the mainland and being near the location and trying to locate some place that sold the same type chips because I missed Hawaii and not being able to locate any or anyone who knew what I was talking about just cause i had the munchies.

Sometimes you just want something. I was shopping at a Asian Grocery that carried everything neccessary to prepare "Squid Luau", but it just wouldn't taste the same just having the Luau except the way I always enjoyed it in the Islands.

Sitting down for a meal of: Lomi Salmon, Fried Aku, Pipikalua, Lau Lau, Kalua Pig, Day old Poi, Rice and Squid Luau just seems right, but not just preparing anyone dish is equal to enjoying the whole experience at a Hawaiian Restaurant.

Haven't found any Hawaiian Style places that have the whole act together on the mainland.

Irwin :hmmm:


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Article by Rita Ariyoshi in the March 2004 of "Islands" magazine (had to buy it for this article) listing sources for omiyage (these seemed interesting):

OAHU

Coco Puffs from Liliha Bakery

Mochi from Shirokiya (orange and peanut butter flavored?)

MAUI

Manju from Sam Sato's restaurant in the Mill Yard area of Wailuku

Maui-sadas from Simply Sweets Bakery in Kahului

BIG ISLAND

Ohelu berry preserves from Hirano Store in Glenwood

Dark chocolate honu from Kailua Candy Company in Kailua-Kona

KAUAI

Bread sticks from Kilauea Bakery

Anahola granola

Kauai fudge from Long's Drug Store

Taro Ko Chips in Hanapepe

LANAI

Jam made by Dolores Fabrao

Bread from Central Bakery

Sun-Ki, your list has considerable overlap with her list (but I didn't mention the duplicates in my condensation)! Cookies listed on the appropriate thread.

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