One of the best things about living in Japan is the food. Whenever I visit home, people ask me about it.
“It’s incredible,” I say, feeling lame for using such a trite word to describe a country’s entire array of cuisine. “Maybe you should come visit me and try it!”
Luckily, for those of my friends without the vacation time or ability to make a trip to Japan, I might now be able to give them a little taste of the country — or at least of Osaka. A short class at Eat Osaka taught me to eat some of the canonical street foods of the city: kitsune udon, yakitori and chopstick okonomiyaki.
Nestled within the Shinsekai district of Osaka and housed in a renovated, traditional-style Japanese house, Eat Osaka offers an authentic cooking experience and several recipes per class. While the dishes I mentioned are part of the company’s “Street Food” class, there is also a “Home Cooking” course that teaches other recipes, including Japanese side dishes, miso soup and mochi.
And this isn’t the kind of cooking class that sort of teaches you to make Japanese food: We made it all from scratch. My favorite part of the class was making my own udon noodles. After mixing the dough. kneading it and securing it in two layers of plastic bags, we stomped on it with our feet to ensure the ingredients were thoroughly blended.
Then, we used our body heat to incubate the dough.
“We use every part of the body in Japanese cooking,” my instructor joked.
We moved on to making yakitori — again, from scratch, before cutting and boiling them. Next was the main event: chopstick okonimiyaki. While the ingredients and batter were fairly straightforward, rolling them onto chopsticks was a challenge that, ultimately, my classmates and I all conquered.
Afterward, we laid our feast before us, exchanged a hearty “kanpai!” and ate a feast of our own making. I, at least, was surprised at how good mine was, and how close it tasted to what I’ve eaten in restaurants in two years of living in Japan.
The classes at Eat Osaka are small, and for a reason. By keeping them intimate, the experience was more like time with friends than a formal class, and I had time to chat with my teacher and the two other students in the class.
Arisa and Ayad Aya, Eat Osaka’s two chefs, both grew up in the Kansai region and learned to cook by watching and assisting their parents and grandparents in the kitchen.
Eat Osaka is both child- and vegetarian-friendly, and reservations for classes are available on their website. Classes last about two hours and cost ¥6500. The fee includes all the ingredients and equipment necessary.
This activity was found on Nippon Quest, a website that collects unique and interesting activities from around Japan and allows users to rate and recommend different activities. To learn more about this or other events in Japan, visit their website.
From Osaka Station: Take the JR Osaka Loop line to Shin-Imamiya Station or the Midosuji subway line to Doubutsuenmae Station. From there, walk to Tsutenkaku Tower.
From Tokyo Station: Take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen (Nozomi train) toward Hakata. After just under two and a half hours, get off at Shin-Osaka Station. Then, take the Midosuji Line toward Tennoji for nine stops and get off at Dobutsuenmae Station. From there, it is about a five-to-seven-minute walk to Tsutenkaku Tower.