Give A Holiday Box Of WagashiCover Story Features
November 27, 2016
Story By: Maria Kanai | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
At Minamoto Kitchoan, the traditional Japanese culture of gift giving makes it easy to find the perfect omiyage (edible present) for everyone on your list. With a store in Ala Moana Center and a kiosk in Kahala Mall, this confectionery presents a variety of Japanese gourmet sweets called wagashi, flown in directly from the prefecture of Okayama.
Founded in 1947, Minamoto Kitchoan has more than 220 stores in Japan and opened in Ala Moana Center in September 2013. A few months ago, it opened a second location with a kiosk at Kahala Mall, close to Longs Drugs.
“We offer a nice selection of wagashi, from red bean-paste cakes to fruit jellies, which appeal to both local and Japanese tastes,” says Yayoi Akana, the general manager of Minamoto Kitchoan.
The store is especially famous for its Shimizuhakuto jelly ($12), also known as white peach jelly. Akana says, “We take special pride in our white peach jelly, which is made from the best peaches picked from trees grown in the Okayama prefecture. The peaches are blocked from direct sunlight, preserving its nutrition and sweetness, and all that good flavor is found in the jelly. One bite, and you can see why the price is on the higher end.”
During the holiday season, Minamoto Kitchoan is offering four gift boxes that feature the store’s most popular treats. Assortment A ($25) features Fukuwatashi Senbei, or waffle cookies; Oribenishiki, or a Japanese cake with chestnut paste and sweet red bean paste; Loquat Jelly; and Grace Dew fruit jellies.
The waffle cookies are slightly crumbly and not overly sweet, with vanilla, chocolate or matcha cream fillings. As for the Grace Dew fruit gummies, Akana says they are popular with people who may not enjoy Japanese red bean paste or chestnut flavors. These light jellies come in an assortment of natural flavors that use real fruits, and are full of collagen to promote healthy skin. “The Grace Dew packaging is very kawaii (cute), and kids also love them because they come in smaller shapes of the real fruits, such as bananas or grapes, so they’re fun to eat,” she adds. “I’ve seen many people buy them as favors for weddings or parties.”
Assortment B ($35) has pieces of crispy Kasutera sponge cake; waffle cookies; Momosayaka, or white peach jelly; Nashinoka, or creamy pear-flavored jelly; and Tsuyaguri, a sweet roasted chestnut yokan (hard jelly). Assortment C ($40) comes with mango jelly, Nashinoka, waffle cookies, Oribenishiki, white peach jelly, and Grace Dew fruit jellies. Last, but not least, Assortment D ($50) presents waffle cookies; Ayashirabe, or white bean paste manju cakes in matcha, custard and chocolate flavors; and a box of white peach mochi.
Minamoto Kitchoan’s store display cases are full of different treats, so if you’re not confident about which ones to choose, these assortment boxes make it easy to decide. Wrapped in colorful ribbon, the boxes are aesthetic and artistically presented, making them perfect gifts to hand to family and friends.
Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd. (and at Kahala Mall)
Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.