Wander along the side streets that surround Tsukiji’s famous fish market and before long you’ll encounter Tsukiji Cooking. On the third floor of an apartment block next to the Italian restaurant Paradiso, the school is open every Monday, offering both a tour of the fish market and a cooking class – you can choose to attend both or just one. Located just a 7-minute walk from Tsukiji Station (Hibiya Line), or a 5-minute walk from Tsukijishijo Station (Toei Oedo Line), it’s definitely worth a visit for both culinary wizards and amateurs alike.
Run by a team of three very talented women, Shoji, Kumiko and Misao, the atmosphere is nothing if not welcoming. Non-Japanese speakers are their main clientele, and are well catered for – one of the women, Kumiko, serves as a translator whilst another, Shoji, does the cooking. The space is small but select, and the team make good use of what’s available, starting things off at the hobs whilst cooking starter dishes like miso soup and chikuzenni, then transferring over to the main table to work on a main course. Amateurs needn’t fear: you’ll be talked through every step of the way, from shaping the balls of steaming rice for temari-sushi to rolling out squares of seaweed with a bamboo mat. No need to worry about messing up as you’ll do a practice run with a hot towel first.
The menu varies each week, so you can opt for a different type of food depending on which week you attend. There’s the sushi course, in which participants create three different types of sushi, the okonomiyaki course (Japanese savoury pancake), gyoza course (minced pork dumplings with vegetable stuffing) and the teriyaki chicken course. Ingredients are all included in the fee and have been bought fresh from Tsukiji Market only hours earlier. (Gluten-free ingredients are available on request.) Equipment is also provided, so there’s no need to dash to Seiya and purchase a bamboo mat beforehand. Best of all, you get to eat your creation afterwards, and chances are, it’ll be so delicious you won’t believe you cooked it yourself!
The course is 6,480 yen per person, and photographs are taken throughout so you’ll have some great souvenirs of your experience on the Tsukiji Cooking website. You’ll also receive a recipe booklet so you can recreate your meal at home. In addition to the tour and the on-site cooking class, the company offers a home-visit cooking lesson, vegetarian cooking lessons, and a low-sugar cooking lesson, so all preferences are taken into consideration. According to their website, the group “aims to have a bonding relationship between students and teachers,” and as the course comes to an end, you do feel like you’ve bonded with the other students and made some new friends.
An all-round positive experience with a tasty end result! If you’re looking for a unique way of experiencing Japanese cuisine, look no further. Yummilicious!!