Having lived in Japan for more than a year now still, leaves me curious on how Japanese food is made. Joining the Mosaic Sushi class with Yoshimi Sensei was my first time to experience Japanese cooking class. Though it is really targeted for tourists, I still felt there’s more to learn and enjoy about Japanese food.
When I moved to Japan, I didn’t really have much adjustment in terms of food. Since Japan and Korea are neighbors with related histories and cultures, we share quite a number of similar dishes such as kimbap (김밥), doenjang guk (된장국), namul (나물), and tofu salad (두부샐러드). However, there are still some differences in ingredients and the way we cook our food, which brings out its distinctive taste. For example, a specialized pan is used for egg roll, egg roll and the sushi roll contain sugar, miso soup is not boiled for a long time and so on.
Having said that, I still joined the class removing all my biases and keeping my motivation and interest to learn Japanese cooking tips and tricks from our sensei. The class was held in a cozy apartment in Asakusa, a famous tourist area where you can see Tokyo Sky Tree and Asahi building from Yoshimi-san’s kitchen window. Before the actual cooking began, she gave us lots of information on Japanese ingredients, recipes, and table etiquette so that we can have a basic understanding of the Japanese culture.
After the short introduction, I gained more excitement to proceed with the actual food preparation. Yoshimi-san wanted to focus more on cooking techniques so she already did all the washing, peeling, and cutting of vegetables for us. We started with the egg roll, some sauce, salad and the miso soup. I was cooking with a group so we took turns in doing the cooking. The highlight of this class was mosaic sushi making where we rolled our own sushi with an intricate design from ingredients that we used. We learned the trick on how to make patterns and once we rolled the sushi, it was like magic—just too pretty to eat. We were able to make a full Japanese meal with side dishes, salad, soup and main dish. I enjoyed the food with our group and got to know other tourists visiting Tokyo. Of course, I have to commend our sensei, Yoshimi-san who was really friendly, well-prepared, and professional. She communicates effectively, made the class fun yet informative and even tried to help with some trip planning. I can say that she brought the sunshine on this gloomy and rainy Saturday.
I believe when you understand the culture, the travel becomes more abundant. For me, one way to understand Japanese culture is by experiencing their daily home-cooked meals. Therefore, this cooking class will definitely make your trip more meaningful and memorable. I highly recommend mosaic sushi making class with Yoshimi-san!
Saetbyul is Korean and has lived in Niigata as a graduate student. She is now temporarily working in a multinational company in Tokyo. Though she is coming back to South Korea soon, she already found a friend in Japanese supermarkets, trying to collect ingredients she would need to replicate Japanese home-cooked meals.