It is always so lovely to try new items especially a mix of sweets/ snacks and teas from Japan — an amazing subscription box called BOKKSU arrived at my door and Scott & I were so happy to relive that exciting discovery of Japanese treats.
Founder Danny Taing developed his passion for food and travel while living and working in Japan for many years. During his time there, he immersed himself in the culture, traveled all around the country, and stuffed his face with all the local snacks along the way. It was through the mango chiffon cakes in Kyushu and the freshly handground matcha in Kyoto that Danny found his passion. After returning to the U.S., he was frustrated with the limited availability of the authentic snacks he had discovered during his time abroad. Yearning for a real taste of Japan, he set out to create Bokksu: a premium subscription service that delivers a cultural and gourmet journey through Japan to your doorstep each month.
Bokksu is unlike any other Japanese snack subscription. We are totally in love with authentic Japanese snacks, which is why we handpick snacks that people in Japan actually eat and curate them into beautiful themed boxes every month. We are also the only Japanese box subscription that includes a Tea Pairing specifically selected to complement that month’s delicacies as well as a Tasting Guide that describes the story and flavors of each item in the box.
Pricing and to get your subscription here : https://www.bokksu.com/collections/monthly-subscription-bokksu
My interview with this awesome entrepreneur —-
- How do you curate the box – how do you come up with theme and then individual items that go in there – how do you source product
Japanese people enjoy eating based on season and region, so in order to introduce authentic Japanese food culture to people worldwide, we always select and curate our snacks and teas tightly around cultural themes such as regional themes like Tropical Okinawa or Nagoya Eats, as well as seasonal themes like Blossoming Spring and Fall Harvest. We also have a fantastic supply chain team that continually works to develop relationships with local snack makers in Japan. These deep relationships with artisanal snack makers allow us to source fresher seasonally-limited items before anybody else.
- How does everything stay so fresh – I just had the Lemon Low carb cake and it was so moist and yummy how does it stay so soft
Food technology is one of Japan’s greatest strengths and passions. From carefully crafted recipes to individually wrapping and dehumidifying each snack, their closely guarded techniques result in moist and delicious snacks such as the Low Carb Lemon Cake.
- What would you say shelf life or keep life for some of these products should you try to eat within month
We always source products with a shelf life of at least 90 days from our date of purchase to make sure that every snack is still fresh by the time it arrives. We chose this as our cutoff since we know there can be unexpected delays with shipping sometimes, whether it’s a box stuck at customs or maybe the local postal service is experiencing delays, and we want to make sure that despite unexpected delays, our members will always receive products that are still fresh 1 month after receiving their box.
- I love that you supply a map so you can see where all products are from – why do you think that is important
We curate Bokksu to be an authentic gourmet experience, but we also want it to be a cultural education. We want our members to be able to see this map and know that every snack has a story. Whether that story has to do with using local ingredients or representing a longstanding tradition, we try to tell that story through the descriptions on our custom-made Tasting Guide. It’s also a matter of transparency to show that all of our snacks really are produced in local regions throughout Japan.
- Now what is Hyuganatsu and Shiquasa – so interesting not only trying treats but being exposed to different fruits – why don’t we have those fruits here in the United States
Hyuganatsu and Shiquasa are two citrus fruits native to Japan. Hyuganatsu was first discovered in Miyazaki Prefecture (formerly called Hyuga) and ripens in the summer (Natsu in Japanese). Large and very sweet and juicy, it is typically eaten like a grapefruit. Shiquasa is only found further south in Okinawa and the Ryukyu island chain. It’s quite sour when unripe and is used often as a garnish or flavoring the way lemon and lime is. We actually have a blog article detailing these and a few other Japanese citrus fruits on our site here.
Finding them in the US is difficult for a variety of reasons but probably most important would be a lack of awareness in the US market. However, I believe this is changing as people’s tastes are broadening. Hyuganatsu and Shiquasa in particular are grown in only certain prefectures, which makes them expensive even in Japan. Having said that, if you have a really good Asian or Japanese market nearby, you may be able to find them on occasion!
- What has been your favorite Bokksu to date
It would definitely have to be May 2018 Bokksu: All Stars because it was our anniversary box and a collection of our Members’ favorites over the past 2 years. From innovative Kinako Mochi to addictive Matcha Chocolate Covered Azuki Beans, everything was delicious, fresh, and unique!
- How did you get started? What is your background – how did you come up with this idea?
After 4 years of living and traveling in Japan and eating everything in sight, I moved here to New York and naturally had brought along a suitcase filled with snacks. After just one housewarming party, the suitcase had been entirely devoured by my friends, many of whom then demanded that I buy extra boxes for them next time I returned to Japan. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t just me, other Americans also love Japanese snacks, but they don’t have an easy way to get them here and the language barrier doesn’t help either. I began thinking up solutions to this dilemma, which led to me creating Bokksu.
- What does Bokksu mean?
Bokksu is a phonetic spelling of the loan word in Japanese for box ( ボックス). Though the Romaji spelling is technically bokkusu, the middle ‘u’ is usually glossed over in pronunciation. As our name suggests, we’ve optimized your box experience to be delightful from receiving the box to unboxing its contents to enjoying the delicious snacks.
- I haven’t been to Japan in a very long time since 2001 if I was to go now where should I visit and what are some of your favorite treat/ pastry shops there – any hidden treasures you want my readers to know about
The best part about traveling in Japan is walking through neighborhoods and finding shops in small alleyways that aren’t on any maps. In fact, my favorite wagashi (traditional Japanese confections) store is a stall in the back streets of Shibuya doesn’t even have a name. Walk around traditional and urban neighborhoods alike — you’ll definitely find some gems. Meanwhile, must-go’s are the basement food shops of Takashimaya and Isetan in Shinjuku, crepes in Harajuku, and good old convenience store gems are always a solid choice.
- In the United States what are some of your favorite treat spots
The most innovative Japanese dessert chef in NYC right now has to be Chika Tillman of Chikalicious in East Village. Everything there is wonderfully delicious. We actually partnered with them for March 2018 Boksu: Glamorous Tokyo to celebrate their expansion opening of a pastry shop in Tokyo.
- How does membership work for Bokksu – can you send just 1 box as a gift ?
Yes you can, and I know I would always love it as a gift! We also have monthly subscriptions or you can choose 3-6-12 monthly subscriptions. It’s really easy to skip or pause or change addresses should you need to.