E and I are always looking for interesting, real and authentic experiences in the new places that we travel to. While on our honeymoon in Thailand, we decided to take a vegetarian cooking class at Mai Kaidee Cooking School. It was such a fun experience and we were able to take home a little of Thailand with us. Every time we make pad thai we reminisce and think back to our honeymoon. It is very special to us.
While researching for Japan, I had decided that we HAD to spend a couple of days in Kyoto. The beautiful temples, shrines, and gorgeous landscape are what attracted us to the region. I also found a cooking class, hosted by a Kyoto local, named Haru Cooking Class.
Taro, the cooking instructor, holds the class in his home with the help of his wife, Yoshiko. The cooking class has amazing reviews on Trip Advisor. I had never seen so many 5 star reviews. Taro offers a vegetarian and a Kobe beef class. E didn’t want to miss his opportunity to try real Japanese Kobe beef. The rates were reasonable so we decided to sign up! Due to interest in both classes by a variety of people, Taro was amenable to hosting the vegetarian and Kobe class at the same time.
Taro’s home is about 25 minutes from the Kyoto Bus and JR Station. We were able to take the bus from from the Station which was across the street from our hotel, the ibis Styles Kyoto Station, without much trouble. Taro told us exactly where to get off the bus and even met us at the station. We weren’t the only ones who got off the bus. Another young man and a family of three had also enrolled in the class. We all walked together to Taro’s home, excited to see what awaited us inside!
Upon arrival, we all sat in the living room and discussed the plan for the class. Taro and Yoshiko served us this AMAZING smokey tea called Iribancha. We went back for seconds and thirds etc. (We were even able to track it down in the US at Ippodo Tea Co. NYC – THANK GOD).
It was at this point that Taro gave a very detailed explanation about Kobe beef and the history of Japanese cooking. He then let us take a look at the Kobe beef certificate for the beef we would be cooking. He walked us through each and every sentence on the certificate. Such transparency! The explanation was so through. Everything we knew about Kobe beef before was wrong! Now armed with the knowledge we were ready to start cooking.
We started by making dashi with kombu and by chopping some vegetables for kinpira. Then we learned about three different kinds of miso and and made some miso soup.
Next we learned how to make a Japanese omelet in a rectangular pan. We added a dash of dashi to the omelet mix for some extra oomph! Instead of flipping the omelet with a spatula we flipped it with chopsticks. It was so cool! Then it was on to learning how to make tofu from scratch. It was a delicate balancing act but actually not as hard as you might think.
The last thing we made was the Kobe beef and we actually watched the pro do all the work. Taro carefully seared each side of the Kobe and then sautéed the additional fat with some mushrooms.
Everything was finished cooking and it was time to eat! Taro and Yoshiko carefully set the table, displaying all of the food that we had all painstakingly prepared so beautifully. It was almost too perfect to eat! Everything we ate was tasty and delicious. The class really gave us the skills to cook Japanese food at home and it was such a delight to learn from Taro and Yoshiko. We even made some new friends!