I have a confession. As soon as I landed in Japan, I fell in love with the food. While I’ve always loved Japanese food because nothing beats the freshness of ingredients and simplicity of the meals, the food in Japan took it to a whole new level. Bottom line, the food in Japan is out of this world!
During our last trip, our mission was to eat as much good food that we can- naturally, this included learning as much about the cuisine as possible which is one of the reasons why we decided to sign up for a cooking class.
If you’ve been following the blog for some time now, you would know that we’re HUGE fans of taking cooking classes wherever we go. For us, since we travel full time and have limited luggage space, it’s the ultimate souvenir.
As soon as we landed, we started looking for traditional cooking classes in Kyoto where we could learn to cook some of our favorite Japanese meals.
At the very end of this adventure review, I will dish out my Adventure Seeker verdict and if I think this activity is worth doing.
Why Go on a Kyoto Cooking Class
Given that food is such a HUGE part of the Japanese culture, we knew we had to take a class while we were in the country. The tricky part was finding the right one.
Cookly is one of those companies that we absolutely ADORE, mainly because the concept is so awesome (and also because we love food!). When asked to explain what Cookly is, I always liken it to the Airbnb for cooking classes. Their platform has a wealth of information, which is why it was our first stop to help us find a good Kyoto cooking class to join while in Kyoto.
We decided to settle on a bento box cooking class at the Cooking Sun Machiya Studio. For those of you who don’t know, a bento box is like the ultimate lunch experience, allowing you to taste a little bit of everything. Although we did this particular one, check out the other classes that they offer from sake tasting, market tours, to ramen cooking classes, there is definitely something for everyone here!
Our Experience: Kyoto Cooking Class Menu for the Day
As mentioned, we were going to be making a variety of things and putting them together in a bento box. Our menu for our Kyoto cooking class consists of the following:
- Miso Soup（みそ汁）
- Egg Roll（だし巻たまご）
- Gomaae Sesame Salad（ごま和え）
- Sushi Roll（巻き寿司）
- Teriyaki Chicken（照り焼きチキン）
We were taught how to make everything from scratch, including the sesame dressing which was absolutely delicious!
Cooking Our Bento Box:
We started off by making the base of the miso soup. Our cooking instructor walked us through how to create the broth (dashi) using the ingredients at hand. There were four of us in the class which was great as we really got personalized instructions on what to do. After creating the broth, we then let it sit and simmer and set it aside for later use.
After we made the stock, we then proceeded to create the egg omelet which would be the filling of our sushi rolls. I loved this process and will definitely re-create this at home. If you’ve never eaten a Japanese omelet, imagine it to be a light, airy, fluffy layered cake that’s both sweet and savory!
The whole thing was super fun- plus, I’ve never really cooked with chopsticks before and I have to say, I am now a convert! The secret to getting that sweet and savory flavor is adding a dash of mirin and soy sauce. After we created the omelet, we set them aside, ready to be used as our sushi roll filling.
I’m a big fan of sesame dressing. In fact, in our refrigerator back home, we have a whole bottle. Can you imagine my excitement when our teacher taught us how to make it from scratch? It was honestly so surprised at how simple and easy to do it was.
By grinding the sesame seeds and adding a few key ingredients, we were left with a smooth and creamy dressing which we used with our blanched greens.
Next, we started creating our sushi rolls which were fairly simple. Because bento boxes were traditionally used as a take-out or home-packed meal (also often bought in train stations), most of them don’t contain raw fish which is why our sushi was primarily vegetables and crabstick.
We layered our ingredients on top of the nori and proceeded to roll our sushi rolls. Our instructor also taught us how to properly make sushi rice which is super important in the Japanese culture.
One of the things I love about Japanese cuisine is how simple it is. From my experience, whenever you buy pre-made teriyaki sauce, there is often a ton of sugar and other ingredients that I can’t even pronounce. When we made it from our bento box, it was simple, not too sweet, and relatively healthy!
We also used chicken thighs which is naturally oily in itself so we didn’t even have to add any cooking oil to our dish. The end result was delicious!
Kyoto is known for its tempura which is why when we were looking for cooking classes in the area, we made sure that this dish was included. Our instructor taught us how to properly create the batter, and gave us a few tips and tricks on how to get the ebi (shrimp) tempura straight and long.
Back home, I’m a sucker for shrimp tempura and always just saw the vegetables as side dishes. In Japan though, we went through a number of tempura kaiseki meals and each one, it was the tempura vegetables that came out as a star.
It was no different here as the simplicity and flavors of the pumpkin and green bean tempura was so good! It was probably one of my favorite parts about the bento box.
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Kyoto Cooking Class Review
Now that we’ve finished cooking up a storm, it was time to put everything together in our bento box. This was the fun part as we got to see the finished product (and eat it too!) Overall, this was one of the best cooking classes we’ve done as both Tom and I really love Japanese food.
After the class, we finally got to enjoy the fruits of our hard work and I can proudly say we gobbled it all down quite quickly! Overall, the class at Sun Machiya Studio is one of the best cooking classes in Kyoto and I’m glad we found them through Cookly.
When it comes to the Adventure Seeker scale, this cooking class is high up there in terms of WOW factor. Not only was it so hands-on but the instructor also gave us lots of snippets on the Japanese culture.
As with most cooking classes, the Challenge Level isn’t that high- but it definitely doesn’t mean that the activity isn’t worth doing. Last but not the least, the biggest question of it all…is it worth it?
In all honestly, YES. Due to the small size of the class, we felt like we were getting 1-1 instruction. The class itself showed us easy enough recipes that we could easily replicate at home. Well worth the price tag!
Adventure Seeker Tip #1: Opting for a bento box class allowed us to learn about different cooking styles. In one class alone, we learned how to make tempura, teriyaki, and more. It was a great overview of Japanese cuisine.
If you're looking for a fun afternoon doing something different, I highly recommend attending a cooking class in Kyoto. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Japan and is something we would do again. The class by Cooking Sun was easy to follow and taught us recipes which we could easily replicate at home which is really important.
Book this cooking class
Kyoto Cooking Class Video
Since we Instagrammed our entire Kyoto cooking class experience, I decided to put together the video clips of our experience to give you an insight into what the class was like!
If you’re heading to Kyoto and want to spend a morning doing something unique, I highly recommend checking this particular cooking class out.
Booking a Kyoto Cooking Class: What You Need to Know
As mentioned, we opted to book this particular Kyoto class through Cookly. The booking process was easy enough and very straight forward. The beautiful thing about Cookly is that it offers a wide array of other cooking classes all over Japan.
Listed below are a few other classes in Kyoto in case Bento Boxes aren’t your thing.
- Ramen Making at the Ramen Factory
- Nishiki Market and Geisha District Food Tour
- Traditional Izakaya Cooking Class
Overall, it’s a class I would do again and is one of the highlights of our trip. Definitely worth experiencing while in Japan.
Transportation While in Kyoto
We recommend getting the Japan Rail Pass while you are moving around the country. It will end up saving you lots of money as train tickets can be expensive. We recommend you compare options here before heading to the Japan.