Sushi is probably the most famous Japanese dish in the world. During the last ten years, there has been a boom of Japanese cuisine worldwide, and sushi restaurants have popped up pretty much everywhere, with variable quality.
Eating good sushi in Japan is easy. Japanese people love good food and they are very picky about the quality of the ingredients and the skills of the chefs who are respected craftsmen. In Japan it actually takes many years before becoming a real sushi chef!
But did you know you can learn the true basics of sushi making while you are in Japan?
Kazuki is a real sushi chef, owner of several sushi restaurants in Tokyo. A few months ago, he decided to open small group classes right in his main restaurant ‘Yachiyo’ in Arakicho (in the center of Tokyo). I heard he was very committed to making travelers discover how to make sushis, so I decided to join the experience.
Being very clumsy and knowing the difficulty of making good sushis, I was quite anxious when I arrived, but Kazuki’s warm welcome and humor immediately helped dissipate my nervousness. Here is a little overview of a typical sushi making course.
Quality teaching by a real sushi master
The class starts by putting on sushi chef hats, which really helps getting in the mood and breaks the ice with the other members. Hygiene is also taken very seriously (we had to wash our hands, use alcohol, and plastic gloves).
During the class, you learn how to make five different kinds of sushi: the famous nigirizushi (a ball of rice with fish on top), makizushi (rolled sushi) but also more difficult and less known ones.
You can experience many aspects of making sushi: what parts of your hand to use, the right amount of rice for each sushi type, how to press the rice, how to hold and roll the seaweed, etc… It may seem like a lot of things to do in a short time, but the class pace is tuned so that no one felt overwhelmed (in my group there was an 80-year-old grandma and she really seemed to have a great time) !
I had a second realization that making sushi really is serious business. There is a correct and a wrong way to do practically everything. Making five different kinds of sushi felt a little challenging. Fortunately, Kazuki is a great teacher. His explanation is very easy to understand, and he will show you every move and every step from various angles. The average group being of about 6 people, Kazuki also has plenty of time to check on your progression and help you correct your sushi if needed (this is important considering the sushi you make… will be your lunch!). Kazuki speaks good English so he will also answer any question you have about sushi, and on top of that he’s a funny guy.
Good lunch and good experience
In the end, I was amazed that my sushi plate did look like a real sushi plate, even if it could not be compared with Kazuki’s own plate! And they actually tasted very good, not thanks to my poor skills, but to the chef’s careful guiding and to the quality of the ingredients. The quantity of sushi was just right for lunch and we also got miso soup and freshly made tempura (deep fried fish and vegetables). I would add a little bonus points for the matcha salt (salt mixed with green tea powder) in which we dipped our tempura which I had for the first time.
Overall, I had a very good time during this class and I felt I learnt a lot of things. The price is very reasonable considering it includes lunch and that learning how to make sushi from a real sushi chef is still quite rare hence valuable.
At the end of the class, we received the recipe for how to make sushi rice at home. It’s a good thing because the class made me want to make it again at home, maybe with some friends!