Bringing back daintily wrapped food gifts or omiyage unique to a region after you've visited Japan is a must for friends and colleagues, especially if you're a Japanese.
The obligatory practice can be quite a hassle when you have to go out of your way to a specialty gift shop to buy omiyage. Thankfully, visitors can now pick regional gifts at a train station or airport before their departure. If your friends knew the trouble you went through, they wouldn't feel offended as the gift would still be authentic.
The process of gift-getting is made even easier now that Japan's biggest online shopping mall - Rakuten (www.rakuten.com.sg) - retails over 1,000 Japanese snacks including famous ones like the Shiroi Koibito biscuits, through merchants ("shops") such as Patissier Kagetsudo, Kuriya, nacole, Giftland, Ezoya and more.
Forgot to buy that special gift from your Hokkaido holiday? No sweat, just book online and have it delivered to your doorstep or your friend's home.
Apart from cherishing your friendships with such thoughtful gifts, you can also order the snacks for yourself anytime! They make great treats when you crave for unique snacks at home or in the office.
All you need to do is visit Rakuten online and start shopping for the munchies that catch your fancy. But if you don't know where to start, don't fret. We highlight the yummiest goodies after tasting more than a dozen different snacks from Rakuten.
Here are AsiaOne's Top 10 favourites, not listed in order of preference:
Presented in a sakura-pink box, these buttery French-style biscuits in blush of pink are sandwiched with sakura-flower flavoured cream. Savour a taste of spring to rekindle memories of a cherry blossom season hanami holiday.
Packed in a monochrome box, the individually wrapped chocolate cakes are cocoa-rich and studded with cashew nuts. Warm them in the oven for an oozy-chocolate treat in every bite. A scoop of vanilla ice-cream will add to the pleasure immeasurably.
Perfect for tea, the moist and buttery cakes come in three flavours - cherry, apple and matcha. A crispy Central Leaf Pie joins the party.
Packed in a square tin, these rice crackers made with famous black soybeans from Tamba (near Kyoto). In two simple, but mouth-watering flavours: Naturally salted and shrimp flavoured.
The deep pink Tivolina tin with a drawing of a French girl reveals surprises of quality confections. You can never have enough of such treats like the chocolate and nut-coated ring, almond chocolate leaf, almond leaf, cookie with rose-flavoured centre, nuts and berry crisp and eggy milk roll.
This wildly popular gift from Hokkaido is a big hit with Japanese and Singapore tourists. The thin Langue de Chat biscuits with a delicate crispy are sandwiched with either milk chocolate or white chocolate. Keepsake tin in wintry design makes it a choice gift.
Chill the jellies before you slide them into your mouth. The flavours of the natural-fruit treats include cherry, blueberry, cheesecake, kiwi, milk mousse, orange and yoghurt and mixed yoghurt. One is not enough on a sweltering day.
Just the right spread for tea. Leaf biscuits and petite cakes with berry and chocolate flavours mingle with maple and cheese tarts. If you have to fight with another sweet lover, grab the tarts first.
Another specialty of Hokkaido, Potato Farm's Hokkaido Premium Potato fries are crispy, nicely salted and packed with a natural potato flavour. So good you can't stop till you finish the last fry.
Discreetly salted, the whole corn bursts with sweet, natural juices with each bite. A most 'natural' gift from Hokkaido.
Other interesting snacks we've tasted:
The set includes crunchy green-tea flavoured waffle biscuits with matcha and eggy aftertastes and buttery Langue de Chat. Comes with a packet of Sencha (green tea leaves enhanced with green tea powder) from Shizuoka for that perfect cuppa to go with the treats.
Who would expect the Hokkaido soybeans to transform into crispy chocolate sweets? The non-GMO beans are enrobed in two flavours: Chocolate, as well as chocolate mint. Sweetened with beet sugar.
The Iri-Daizu roasted soybeans are packed according to three flavours: Low salt, laver and wasabi and soy sauce. All are good. Have a fistful with no guilt.
Flavoured with green tea powder, the Langue de Chat biscuits are sandwiched with a green-tea cream.
Flavoured with powdered green tea, the roll cake is made with red beans too. Goes well with a cup of tea.