It’s no secret that Tokyo is one of the best culinary capitals of the world. It’s come to an eclectic range of high-end restaurants, a lively street food culture and the most Michelin stars of any other city in the world. With that kind of pedigree, there’s pretty much no better place to learn how to cook. Here are a just handful of some of the city’s most popular, and more importantly, fun schools to pick up a few extra skills in the kitchen.
1. Sushi making at Tokyo Sushi Academy
© Photo by Tokyo Sushi Academy
Anyone who’s ever watched the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” has probably fantasized about what it would be like to live the whimsical, yet dedicated life of a top sushi chef. Though it takes decades of tireless training, dedication and patience to become a pro, it turns out making sushi can be a whole stack of fun too.
Located just down the road from Tokyo’s current seafood capital of Tsukiji Market is the very officially titled Tokyo Sushi Academy, one of the city’s top sushi schools. Here guests can learn all the ins and outs of Edo-style sushi making, from its centuries-old history down to how perfect every single grain of rice. Classes on offer vary from single 90-minute sessions up to six-week intensive courses for those who are feeling a little more serious.
Where: 4-7-5 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Cost: ¥7,000 (Adults), ¥2,000 (Children)
2. Kawaii character bento with Noriko Sensei
If you’re after something a little more relaxed than the serious world of sushi, then how about crafting your own kawaii edible characters? This Shinjuku-based class may be perfect for you. Teacher Noriko from WashoCook Studio was originally inspired to share her love of cooking after an unforgettable experience meeting, cooking, and eating with a local family living in rural New Zealand.
In this class, you can design your own culinary characters by carving fresh seasonal produce into cute bento box style meals. If you have any questions about the wider world of Japanese food, be sure to ask Noriko as she’s also an expert in traditional Japanese cuisine. Classes typically run for two and a half hours.
Where: WashoCook Studio, 2-2 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Book here: www.airbnb.com/experiences/15562
3. Washoku and vegan-friendly food at Buddha Bellies
© Photo by Buddha Bellies
If there were such a thing as cooking school popularity contests, Buddha Bellies Cooking School Tokyo would take the first spot. This English-language centric school has been featured in three Lonely Planet books, AirBnB’s “Kitchens of Tokyo” series and a number of other travel programs.
Conveniently located just outside Yushima station, where the studio just relocated to, the school has customizable classes that are very vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Whether you want to learn more about crafting classic Japanese dishes, making the perfect bento box or perfecting the art of sukiyaki, the team at Buddha Bellies can steer you in the right culinary direction.
Where: Rm. 401, 3-20-9 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Cost: From ¥5,500 (Japanese sweets). Most food classes cost ¥7,500.
4. Get serious about soba at the Tsukiji Soba Academy
Turns out Tsukiji is home to another culinary academy, but this one is all about the world of soba noodles. The Tsukiji Soba Academy is more for the serious kitchen dweller. Run by the celebrated Japanese chef, Akila Inouye, past students of his classes have in fact gone on to win Michelin prizes and open their own soba restaurants in the US.
Here you can learn everything there is to know about how to make classic or gluten-free soba from scratch. The classes on offer range from just for fun style two and a half hour sessions to comprehensive 10-day courses for the professional folks.
5. Craft the perfect bowl of ramen at RaJuku
After spending some time in Tokyo it’s easy to become a little ramen-spoiled. With an abundance of incredible quality, affordable ramen joints dotted on basically every corner of the city, nowhere else in the world can ever compare. But what if you could create your own perfect bowl ramen? Well, after a session at RaJuku you’ll be well on your way. Sourcing the expertise of some of Tokyo’s most respected chefs, RaJuku offers a number of classes for all levels, ranging from four hours to 12 days.
If you’re feeling a little ambitious and wanting to go beyond ramen, you can also sign up for their “Izakaya menu” class to pick up some skills crafting the classics like gyoza, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and agedashi tofu.
6. Cook with a local at Mayuko’s Little Kitchen
© Photo by Mayuki's Little Kitchen
If cooking to you is as much about the experience as it is about the final product, then Mayuko’s Little Kitchen is the school for you. Hosted in a cozy Sendagaya home kitchen, Mayuko’s Little Kitchen offers eight different types of authentic home-style Japanese courses to choose from, including vegan and vegetarian-friendly options.
In recent years, Mayuko has gathered quite the reputation in cooking class circles. She’s been featured on a number of travel videos and in 2017, was also awarded the coveted title of being ranked as the number one cooking class in the Shibuya, Tokyo area by TripAdvisor. Classes generally take two and a half to three hours depending on what you’re making.
Where: Meet in front of Sendagaya station on the day of classes. Organizers will take you to the cooking studio.
Cost: ¥9,000 – ¥11,000
7. All you need washoku at Tokyo Kitchen
© Photo by Tokyo Kitchen
If you’re a bit more of the indecisive type, then it might be worth browsing what’s on offer at Tokyo Kitchen in Asakusa. With a variety of classes from the more eclectic like mosaic sushi rolls, to the classics like okonomiyaki and gyoza, you’ll be sure to find something here to suit your taste and skill level. Located just a short stroll from many of Asakusa’s most popular tourist spots, this school is a great place to bring a visiting friend who’s interested in exploring the local culture, scenic and culinary highlights of Tokyo altogether.
Where: Meet in front of Kaminarimon police box right next to the Kaminarimon gate outside of Asakusa station. Participants will be taken to the venue from there.
Cost: From ¥7,560 per person.
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