Sites of beauty and intrigue abound in Tokyo, but something really worth a visit is the cooking classes held there. Not only a source of entertainment during the trip, learning from the professional instructors also allows you to grasp the key culinary skills of Japanese cooking.
Here are five tourist-friendly cooking classes, all conducted in English. Choose your favorite and bring on the heat.
KAI House Japanese Cooking
Seasonal Japanese Cuisine
The cooking classes held by famous knife brand KAI demonstrate the most popular Japanese dishes alongside the seasonal ones. The seasonal menu is updated every two months; for instance, its July-August program included asparagus in sesame sauce, fried tofu in sweet sauce, tomato and avocado donburi, dashi maki tamago (egg roll) and dashi broth with seasonal vegetables. In September and October, it featured dishes like pickled cucumber and wakami seaweed, agebitashi (deep-fried vegetables soaked in dashi broth) and rice with deep-fried tofu and ginger.
The classes last from two to two and a half hours, each with a maximum of 24 participants. For groups of six or less, each person is charged ¥60,000, while it costs ¥12,000 per head for larger groups. Guests also have the option of partaking in the knife sharpening class for beginners. The two-hour affair is priced at ¥10,000 for single students and ¥5,000 per person for groups of two to 10.
A Glimpse Into The Local Market
Though the famous fish auctions have moved to Toyosu at Tsukiji's Outer Market, it's still business as usual. With prices starting from ¥12,000 per head, the three-hour class combines both a visit to Tsukiji Outer Market and a cooking lesson at the studio, with tourists choosing what dishes to make. The selection includes nigiri sushi, maki rolls, okonomiyaki and robotoyaki, among others. In the first hour, participants are taken to the market to pick up the ingredients. The two-hour cooking session follows, with each group consisting of no more than 10 people to ensure everyone can learn from the instructor up close and personal. All the instructors are Japanese and equipped with rich cooking and teaching experience. Tsukiji Cooking also has other classes available, such as two-hour chef demonstrations at Michelin-starred restaurants and sushi-making classes at sushi restaurants, also running two hours.
Cook! Asakusa Kappabashi
Cooking With Family
This cooking studio shows Japan-loving tourists how to make the most authentic dishes by guiding students to prepare home-style dishes like miso soup, onigiri, maki roll, dashi maki tamago and udon. Priced from ¥4,500, the classes take place over a period of an hour and half to two and a half hours. Its biggest advantage is the lack of age restriction, which makes this class a great idea for family bonding: parents work in the kitchen side-by-side with their kids, culminating in a delicious family meal.
Studio AI Tokyo Cooking Class
Cooking at a Home Kitchen
Ai Lisa Yokoyama is no stranger to food and hospitality, coming from a lineage where her grandmother is a guesthouse owner and her mother a chef. Only a mere 25-minute train ride from Shinjuku station, her cooking class features homestyle Japanese cuisine, with dishes including teriyaki chicken, beef and potato stew and sweet fried chicken wings. Each class consists of a main course and two side dishes, and the menu can be discussed beforehand with Yokoyama. She doesn’t have a fixed teaching timetable, preferring those interested contact her through Facebook. The cost of each class is ¥7,000; Yokoyama accepts groups of two or more, each person above six years of age. If the accommodation allows, she can teach where the participants are staying and offers dish recommendations based on the equipment of the kitchen.
ABC Cooking Studio
The Largest In Japan
ABC Cooking Studio is one of the biggest cooking schools in Japan, with branches in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. Novices be assured: the studio makes an effort to keep the recipes easy to follow. The classes run between an hour and a half and two hours, costing ¥5,000. The menu changes regularly and can be viewed online. There are about 10 options, ranging from tempura to maki rolls, and wagashi to Western pastries.