Learning how to cook Japanese food, real authentic Japanese food, isn’t an easy task. There’s the careful balancing of clean flavors, umami, the specialized ingredients, and just the right preparation. Learning the intricacies of one of the world’s most favored cuisines isn’t for the faint of heart. However, there is an amazing service called Tadaku that pairs you with Japanese locals wanting to share their cuisine and how to make it.
This is how I met Nahoko.
Cooking With Nahoko
Tucked away in a cute little alleyway in Ryogoku, Tokyo’s sumo-wrestler district, is Nahoko’s cooking studio, Yorokobi Kitchen.
YOROKOBI ”喜び” is a Japanese word for happiness. To let tourists from all over the world enjoy Japanese food culture with the five senses, we provide hands on cooking class. In a homey atmosphere, you will experience an enjoyable also informative cooking activity. It will be new for you to use Japanese unique cooking utensils and treat yourself to authentic Japanese dishes made yourself. We always welcome vegetarian, vegan and Muslim guests. All our recipes are flexibly developed to fit your needs. Please have a lot of fun at the class and make many happy memories of Japanese cooking experience!
A former restaurant chef, Nahoko now does cooking classes for people, foreigners and Japanese alike. I immediately felt at home with her. Given a traditional apron, meant to protect the kimono, she kept the tea cups filled and my mind at ease. We were going to make one of my favorite Japanese dishes – okonomiyaki!
And not only that, she had customized the entire menu to my dietary requirements, something Tadaku is really wonderful at. If you want to learn how to make a certain dish, but are allergic to anything in it, they’ll help sort things out so you can have the best lesson possible AND be able to actually eat it.
When you book a class with Tadaku, you’re not just booking a cooking class, you’re booking an experience. You’ll be taught how to make some amazing Japanese dishes, absolutely, but the main premise of Tadaku is that you’re cooking with locals.
On my menu was miso soup (from SCRATCH! And let me tell you, it was the best miso soup I have ever had), green beans with a sesame sauce, daikon salad, okonomiyaki, and seasonal fruit. Every dish we made came with instructions, that are available to take home at the end, and Nahoko was right there by my side making the dish with me and sharing duties.
You’re basically invited into a Japanese person’s kitchen and cook with them, and frankly, it’s delightful.
Alongside the instruction and cooking are fun cultural moments and bits, such as learning how bonito flakes are made. Did you know it’s from a dried bonito fish that’s been shaven? The dried, hardened fish almost looks like drift wood, it was crazy. Also, it’s just lovely conversation.
Learning how to make okonomiyaki is a serious bucket list item of mine that has finally been checked off. I was pretty dire at flipping it to be honest, but Nahoko was nothing but encouraging. Also, I learned that while there’s a “traditional” way to make the dish, you can customize it in any way you really want. I can’t wait to make it at home with my family!
Why You Should Book a Cooking Class with Tadaku
The hosts at Tadaku are all experienced in their field and have a world of stories to tell. I found myself so at ease during the whole process, even handling ingredients I had never heard of or worked with before. This was down to how great Nahoko was as a host and instructor, and made me realize that Tadaku is pretty choosy with who they partner with. You’re guaranteed to have a great time.
The quality is there as well. I learned SO much from Nahoko, especially in regards to making miso soup. For so long I had simply relied on the instant packets you can get at any old grocery store. I had no idea how much I had been missing out on. Going step-by-step, not only did I learn how to make a vegetarian-based dashi stock from scratch, but I learned the proper way to mix in miso paste as well.
This little tip, keeping the paste in a ladle and slowly adding in broth and mixing to avoid clumps, not only made the soup super delicious, it also just added to the whole experience. And seriously, this miso soup was freaking amazing. I swear it’s magical.
Point blank, if you book with Tadaku, you’re going to learn how to make wonderful Japanese food with a Japanese person in their Japanese kitchen. How much more authentic can you get?
The Okonomiyaki Verdict
It was delicious.
The amount of food we made was insane. It was a major trial to eat it all, and we kind of failed. I would have finished it, but i was genuinely worried I was going to explode. The flavors were great and eating something you’ve made always tastes more delicious. Even though I really enjoy cooking and consider myself pretty decent in the kitchen, I was so proud I’d managed to help create such a tantalizing meal.
My taste buds were singing!
Now It’s Your Turn!
Tadaku operates all over Japan, so if you are heading that way soon, make sure to peruse their list of hosts. If you’d like ¥500 off your Tadaku cooking class, use the discount code NRD_TDK at checkout!
I really want to give a huge thank you and shout out to Theo from Tadaku and Nahoko for having me and showing me a truly wonderful afternoon. It was filled with laughter and lots of delicious food, and that’s how cooking ought to be.
Also playing with the Japanese mortar and pestle was really fun.
Where and How to Start Cooking
Extra shout out to Theo for all the photographs!!
This is a sponsored post! The class was offered in exchange for this post, however, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.