In the course of preparing for our trip to Kyoto, I stumbled upon and ended up making a reservation at a highly-reviewed cooking class in Kyoto called Haru Cooking Class.
Haru Cooking Class website:
HCC is a one-family operation run by a Japanese man named Taro with the assistance of his wife, Yoshiko, and the entertainment of their delightful 5-year old daughter, Haruko. (And child number 2 was on the way) The class, which is run out of the family's home, welcomes small groups of foreigners to learn about, help cook, and enjoy a traditional, casual Japanese meal in an intimate and quintessentially Japanese home environment.
The class exceeded my expectations. Taro was an evidently practiced chef and extremely knowledgeable about Japanese food and cuisine. He provided useful and surprising information about the key ingredients and mega-myths of Japanese food. For example...
The Great Kobe Beef Scam
If you read Forbes in 2012, good for you. You were in the know:
As the above article mentions, Kobe beef was not permitted to be imported into the US until August 2012, and the first (tiny) shipments arrived in November 2012 and March 2013.
If you read the Wall Street Journal in 2012, good for you. You were in the know:
If you are comforting your culinary ego by telling yourself that the Kobe beef you dropped a pretty penny on was definitely in the last two years, so "it's cool," think again. You too were almost certainly scammed:
|Certifying paperwork for the Kobe beef at HCC|
|The completed meal included many|
So, What Does Real Kobe Beef Taste Like?
On sight, it is obvious that Kobe beef is different. The raw meat is extremely marbled, and this quality had a significant effect on both the taste and the texture of the steak. The marbling rendered the beef very tender and flavorful. It had a sweetness atypical of a common steak. The marbling also affected the texture of the steak in a way that was hard to describe but added an element of consistency throughout, and that effect was so significant that its texture was unlike any other steak he had eaten.
All of this was news to me (I blame my total ignorance on my vegetarianism!) and only the tip of the iceberg of what I learned. I won't delve into the 5 types of soy sauce, the 3 types of miso, and the proper preparation of dashi!
HCC was a highlight of the trip for me (even as a vegetarian) because it was so educational and interactive. And, by the way, HCC does offer a vegetarian class too!
Haru Cooking Class website:http://www.kyoto-cooking-class.com/