Japanese Cooking Class – A Vegan’s Delight!

Getting vegetarian food in Japan can be quite a challenge. Just when I had given up all hope of being able to eat an all vegetarian Japanese meal, I got introduced to Natsumi. Natsumi’s mom, Yoko, runs a cooking school in the heart of Tokyo and has over 300 recipes that have been spinning their magic of food lovers since the past 20 years. 

Yoko…my Japanese Masterchef!

Vegan, vegetarian, fish, meat…she knows it all. Yoko will have something that will make you drool!

Sometime last year, Natsumi and Yoko hosted a group of international friends and realised that vegetarians and vegans struggled to get good quality Japanese food. Hence, curated a list of dishes that vegetarians and vegans could and then enjoy. You can’t experience a place without tasting its food…and they wanted everyone to get the ‘real flavour’ of Japan as a country – sophisticated and elegant.

And thus, today I learnt to make delicious Japanese food and had one of my most delicious meal in Tokyo.

What did we make:

We made a delightful meal that consisted of the following:

  1. Miso soup
  2. Pickled onions
  3. Sea weed side dish
  4. Teriyaki Kurumafu (Gluten Bread)
  5. Brown sugar jelly 

This was accompanied by some delightful sake. I was a satiated and happy soul after the meal. My favourite was the teriyaki kurumafu…delicious!

Class in action!

I ate to my heart’s content, yet never did I feel overfull. The flavours were delicate and clean. Even though I had eaten a lot, I felt fresh and energetic…that’s how wonderful Japanese food can be!

My favourite…Kurumafu!

What I enjoyed most:

I really enjoyed being able to spend time with Natsumi, Yoko and fellow students. There was so much to learn, not only about food, but about their culture. It was the perfect way to make a few local friends! 

In terms of learning Japanese cooking, the class was a great experience. Japanese cuisine focuses on freshness of the food and taste of the ingredients more than the ‘cooking on heat’ process, which makes the cuisine very healthy and also very different from Indian cuisine. Preparation is usually simple and the dishes that we learnt were quick to make. So, whether you an experienced ‘Masterchef’ or a newbie in the kitchen, the class is perfect for you either ways!

So many different types of miso pastes

I also got acquainted to a whole lot of Japanese ingredients, ranging from half a dozen types of sea weed to miso paste from around the country. It was great to learn how simple things – a little sea weed and a little dollop of miso paste elevate the taste of the food to a whole new level. 

How long is the class:

My cooking session, along with the delicious meal that we prepared and the yummy sweet sake lasted about 3 hours. Depending on what you want to learn and how much you would like to learn, the duration and frequency (number of classes per week or per month) can vary. 

And so so so many types of sea weed!

Where is the school:

Yoko’s school – Atelier Foyer, is located in heart of Ebisu, about 5 minutes walking distance from Ebisu station. It is very easy to get to by metro and easy to find as well. 

How much does it cost:

All costs of the ingredients used to prepare the meal and the meal itself are included in the class. The cost will depend on the number of classes that you take and the dishes that you learn. It is best to reach out to the school on their Facebook page- they are really quick to revert.

Time for dessert!

What is my recommendation:

I highly recommend spending an afternoon with Yoko at Atelier Foyer if you want to sample food that Japanese actually eat on a daily basis, learn more about the ingredients and make a few local friends. 

Moreover, sightseeing in and around Tokyo can be stressful, with the crowds and the distances. An easy afternoon with some fresh produce and Yoko is the perfect way to unwind and relax. 

Bon apetit!

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