One of the best things anyone can bring back from Tokyo is a love of Japanese food. I don’t know about you, but the thing that surprised me most about my first trip to Japan was that I said yes to every tempting morsel (and 10-course meal) that came my way, but when I got home and stepped on the scale…I’d LOST WEIGHT. That’s because food here is wickedly healthy in every way, but so tasty I had no idea I was being so virtuous.
But the downside is, a lot of it is hard to find in restaurants outside of Japan. It’s a little torturous to be pining for that perfect bite of yakitori grilled chicken, but not be able to scratch that itch when you’re half a world away.
Unless you learn to make it yourself! And the most entertaining way is to do it is to set aside a few hours to take a cooking class while you’re here, taught by a Japanese professional chef. I’ve been searching for a great cooking class to recommend to you, and after taking Chagohan Tokyo’s class yesterday, I’ve finally found it!
The toughest question is, what to learn first? I finally decided that I’m most ashamed of how many boatloads of perfectly good vegetables and shrimp I’ve transformed into soggy, greasy nuggets, so I decided to really stress the system and take the tempura class.
And…OMG, miracle of miracles, in two hours, they actually taught me how to turn this:
And here’s the bonus bit: Chef Masa didn’t just teach me how to make excellent crispy tempura, I went home with some killer new knife skills and cutting techniques, and was armed with the why of deep frying, so now I can also make all kinds of other stuff that was beyond my reach before (who said donuts? SHUT UP)
And finally, two more extremely important points:
One: Masa-san and Junko-san speak great English. They’re not only able to teach in a natural and easily-understandable way, they can also field questions and answer them with ease. As a veteran of many Tokyo workshops/classes, I can tell you this is super rare, even among the ones that advertise “English available.”
Two: You can book in advance and online, in English. They have a really nice and easy-to-use website that allows you to reserve in advance, with a foreign credit card. If you’re reserving WAY in advance, you may need to email them and be a little patient while they juggle their busy teaching schedule to reply. Don’t wait too long, though – classes fill up fast!
If you want to cut to the chase and see what’s available while you’re in Tokyo, here’s the link to their booking page.
*Also, just so you know…
I never take freebies or payment of any kind for stuff I recommend on Only In Japan – if I’m telling you I loved something, it’s because I’m a paying customer myself, and genuinely want you to experience the goodness too.
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist
Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had