Two Japanee Bruddahs’ Hawai’i Holiday Gift Guide 2006

PHOTO: Girl wearing a pikake lei and a haku lei headpiece from The Hawaiian Lei Company

About the only thing you can’t order online from Hawai‘i is spam musubi.

Hawaiian style clothing, accessories, snacks, books, and even leis can be ordered off the web – which has really helped those of us expats who used to get requests for items to bring back from our trips home.

So, with the holidays coming up, the Two Japanee Bruddahs hope you’ll consider some of the following online retailers in putting together your shopping lists.

Crack seed is a popular snack in Hawai‘i. Also called Li Hing Mui or See Mui, crack seed describes a number of dehydrated and preserved fruits. Although an item that can be found here on the Mainland, you can’t beat the variety found at places like the Crack Seed Center in Ala Moana Shopping Center and their online store at www.crackseedcenter.com.

Crack Seed Center’s online store features more than crack seed, from Li Hing Gummie Bears and Candy Papaya Spears, to Sweet Mango Seed and Hawaiian Fish Jerky (various prices starting at $1.50 per pound).

“Suck seed” is one of the island favorites featured on a t-shirt called “Everyday Hawai‘i” ($16) available from Cane Haul Road (www.canehaulroad.com). The shirt lists “talk story” and “grind shave ice” in a design that evokes a local-style artistry.

Although the online selection is limited, you can also find children’s shirts, dish towels and note cards on their website.

It’s still a little odd to see Honolulu residents returning from trips to Maui carrying bags and bags of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. (Manju from Home Maid Bakery used to be one of the most oft-seen favorite omiyage from that island). But you can still count on returning travelers from the Big Island lugging boxes filled with goodies from Big Island Candies (www.bigislandcandies.com).

They recently introduced their line of truffles ($25) in Mocha, Hibiscus, Dark Chocolate, Yuzu and Coconut flavors. Their chocolate dipped shortbread cookies ($9.50 and up) are still a favorite, but you can also buy online some interesting snack variations such as chocolate-dipped ika ($6.50), chocolate-dipped arare “mochi balls” ($6) and Macadamia Nut Biscotti ($13).

Biscotto isn’t complete without some fresh brewed Kona coffee, such as the varieties available from Hawaii Coffee Company’s LION Coffee (www.lioncoffee.com). One of their new items is the Kona Peaberry 7 oz. whole bean ($15). Peaberry coffee beans are much smaller in size and twice as robust in flavor and make up only three to five percent of the entire Kona coffee crop.

In addition to the aroma of Kona coffee, the islands are home to beautiful fragrance of exotic flowers used for leis. Difficult to find here in the Bay Area, those that plan in advance can buy leis online from The Hawaiian Lei Company (www.hawaiianleicompany.com).

With same-day shipping and a freshness guarantee, the company’s selection ranges from the simple Orchid Lei ($14.25) to the Maile Lei with a Twist of Ginger ($69). They also sell such items as Haku Lei headpieces ($40) and Small White Seashell Lei Necklaces ($13.95).

Don’t forget to take off your lei before eating the items ordered from Zippy’s (www.zippys.com). Chili rice stains on a white ginger lei look awful.

When Zippy’s first started their online ordering almost seven years ago, you could get fried noodles, chili and a few other items. Now you can buy Crispy Gau Gee ($25.50) and Portuguese Bean Soup ($23.85) from a larger menu available online.

Unlike Zippy’s food, aloha shirts and mu‘u mu‘u dresses can be found at several places in the Bay Area, even Macy’s. But check out the selection of clothing at Aloha Fun Wear (www.alohafunwear.com). They also have girl’s dresses ($19.95 and up), Royal Flower Hawaiian Quilts ($199) and Hawaiian jewelry such as the 11mm Silver Plumeria Earrings ($30).

Finally, one online service worth mentioning actually involves shipping items to Hawai‘i. ShipToHawaii (www.shiptohawaii.com), an O‘ahu-based shipping service offers Hawai‘i residents a way to save up to 30 to 70 percent on airfreight shipping from the Mainland.

By consolidating members’ shipments to their Hawthorne, Calif, location, they bulk ship regular loads of items to Hawai‘i, allowing customers to take advantage of free shipping offers that are only good in the 48 states.

Although obviously no longer free if you’re playing for their service, the company claims to still save buyers shipping fees, even on FedEx, UPS and DHL. They ship twice a week so there’s a longer wait.

Here’s to a happy online shopping. And if you do know a site that sells spam musubi online, we definitely want to know about it!

Keith Kamisugi and Kyle Tatsumoto are the Two Japanese Bruddahs. Visit them online at www.twojapaneebruddahs.com or email them at wot@twojapaneebruddahs.com.

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