Briony Leo shares her experience taking a Gyoza Cooking Class in Tokyo, the ultimate Japanese cooking class. Read on for the full story.
One of the most memorable dishes for Tokyo visitors is Gyoza. Although the dish is traditionally Chinese, Tokyo restaurants have gained a reputation for serving mouth-watering, irresistible Gyoza to standing-room-only crowds.
I wanted to take a cooking class to learn how to make my own Gyoza during my visit to Tokyo. While there, I chose to attend a personal cooking class with Satoru.
First things first – Satoru is a true professional. He managed to keep us entertained, teach us a lot about cooking and keep an eye on all the dishes we cooked and served. He has the perfect personality for a cooking teacher – he is fun, experienced, intuitive and enjoys sharing his knowledge.
Cooking Class in Tokyo
Satoru lived in San Francisco for part of his life, speaks excellent English and has great knowledge of both Japanese and American culture and lifestyle. We chatted about his previous work as well his family’s influence on both his love of food and his desire to share his cooking knowledge.
First, Satoru taught us how to make a perfect Miso soup. I won’t give away the secret but it involves bonito flakes – these flakes possess an incredible, smoky flavor that stands out.
As a bonus, the Miso paste that Satoru uses is made by his mother and is fermented for 2-3 years. The flavor and nutritional benefits of the miso are incredible. An interesting aside: we were taught not to boil miso paste when dissolving it in liquid since there are live cultures in the paste. Heating the miso too much will kill beneficial bacteria and remove some of the nutritional benefits.
We then made a salad with a root that we call the burdock in English. The textures to this salad were incredible. We will definitely make it again on our own. In addition, the burdock root possesses many nutritional qualities and is high in fibre.
Satoru then guided us through the eye-opening process of rice preparation. The care that is taken with preparing this rice was incredible. That care included washing the grains, ensuring that they weren’t damaged. This was a great introduction into the importance and respect for ingredients.
Then it was time for the main event – the Gyoza! As Satoru showed us the ingredients, we were happy to see that all the recipe components are low cost and are available in Australia and Asian supermarkets throughout the world. Rice wine, sake, sesame oil and other special flavors are used to create a taste distinctive to Gyoza. We began chopping ingredients, creating a big bowl of Gyoza filling ready for placement into dumplings.
Satoru then taught us how to make the distinctive Gyoza shape of a ‘wave’ on one side, and we began filling up trays and trays with our freshly made dumplings. By the end of the class we made a LOT of dumplings.
After we finished shaping all our dumplings, it was time to cook them. Satoru showed us the best way to cook Gyoza, ensuring they are thoroughly cooked and presented.
Finally, we were ready to eat. Satoru taught us how to present the food beautifully – something his grandmother had taught him many times over many years. In setting the table for lunch, he taught us the history of each plate and object on the table. Some of them were hundreds of years old, with each piece representing a special memory or family object.
Knowing about the history of the plates and bowls brought an extra significance to our meal. The end result was beautiful as well.
We enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal with an entertaining and experienced teacher, learned how to prepare incredible food and ate a delicious lunch afterward. As you can imagine, the final result was better than any Gyoza I ever tasted. The fact that we had made it was a bonus. We now have a new appreciation for the textures and taste components of the food as well.
Plus, the class, located in Shinjuku, is easily accessible. If you have the energy afterward, you can walk around the area or even go to an early showing of the Robot Restaurant (which is nearby).
I recommend this class to anyone visiting Japan. As a traveller or tourist who doesn’t speak Japanese, I don’t often have the luxury of spending time in someone’s home while experiencing local Japanese hospitality and traditions.
Our afternoon with Satoru was wonderful. We chatted with him about our culture as well as his family’s traditions and his view on modern Japanese life.
The link for the class is here. Be sure to use coupon code EGEH-TCAX when you book the class to get a discount.
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