On an unassuming street in central London, a five-minute walk from Victoria Station, a hotel…
Izumi Nakamura is a sushi chef from the southern Japanese island of Amakusa, where the nori (seaweed) used in sushi is farmed and collected along its beaches.
Here in London she runs the Sozai Cooking School, which offers an incredible sushi making class which, in just two hours, provides you with all the most vital and fundamental sushi making knowledge and skills. These are skills you’ll be able to take away with you and transfer to your everyday home cooking.
After two fun and engaging hours with Izumi, you’ll be able to make three different kinds of sushi at home flawlessly. Her knowledge and instructions are so clear and concise that you’ll also b e able to pass on this knowledge to your friends when you make sushi for your next dinner party. Let’s look now at exactly why Izumi’s sushi workshop is the best sushi making class in London.
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What do you learn at this sushi class?
The class lasts for two hours. In that time, you will primarily learn the proper way to roll sushi. Specifically, you will learn how to roll three different types of sushi:
- Hosomaki: Simple, bite-sized thin sushi rolls of rice and nori, usually filled with a single vegetable (at Izumi’s class you’ll use cucumber).
- Futomaki: Larger, fatter rolls of sushi. Fatter simply because the rice and nori are filled with two or more ingredients (at Izumi’s class you’ll use cucumber, burdock, pepper, and lettuce).
- Uramaki: These are inside-out sushi rolls where the rice is on the outside. The most common version is the California Roll, which you’ll learn to make at Izumi’s class. California Rolls are filled with avocado and salmon, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Fun fact: California Rolls were invented by a Japanese soldier after he settled in California after World War 2 and was looking for a way to make sushi more palatable to Americans (this is one of the many fascinating tidbits and stories you’ll learn from Izumi!)
So, the sushi class is effectively set up into three sections, one for each type of sushi: hosomaki, futomaki, and uramaki. You’ll gather around Izumi as she shows you and explains how to roll the sushi, as well as what ingredients and tools you’ll need.
Izumi also discusses where to buy the tools (such as a bamboo mat) and how to properly prepare and clean the sushi rice beforehand. Once Izumi has explained the process and prepared an example in front of you, she then gives you time to make your own at your own station of the sushi workshop.
Everything you need to make the sushi is provided for you. While Izumi explains the process and makes her example, her assistant prepares all the tools and ingredients at each workstation for when you return to make your own. It’s brilliantly efficient; Izumi is clear, engaging, funny, enthusiastic, and a fantastic teacher! Not a moment feels rushed nor wasted. The sushi making class is both fun and efficient in equal measure from beginning to end!
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Facts, Stories, and Insight
What separates Izumi’s sushi making class from other cooking courses in London is how she manages to sprinkle an effective, engaging sushi class with fascinating facts and stories about the history, traditions, and methods of sushi. And Izumi is one of those rare kinds of teachers who speaks with so much energy and fervour that the facts stick to your brain and make the whole class that much more fascinating.
Izumi will tell you about the island of Amakusa where she grew up, as well as the life of a sushi chef and what kinds of training they go through. She explains how the art of sushi making was, in fact, begun in Indonesia and she will explain how the process started as well as how it arrived in Japan, and how it has evolved since. And although you’ll learn so many delightful and intriguing facts and stories, not for a second does this distract from the actual class. You’re here to learn practical sushi making skills and you will spend every second doing so.
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What do you leave the sushi workshop with?
Mainly, skills! Izumi’s method of teaching encompasses the visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic styles of learning. You’ll watch her roll all three kinds of sushi. As she does so, she will talk you through exactly what she is doing and how she is doing it. Then, you will be given the space to emulate what you’ve seen and heard for yourself.
It’s a completely balanced lesson that ensures you leave the class with the confidence to repeat what you’ve learned at home. You will not walk away from this sushi making class and immediately forget what you’ve learned. Your muscles, eyes, ears, and mind will remember it all.
You also leave the sushi class with your own bento box that you’ve made yourself! All of the sushi that you prepare (cucumber-filled hosomaki; fat futomaki filled with vegetables; and inside-out uramaki filled with avocado and salmon) is now yours to enjoy.
Once the two hours have passed, you can either take your freshly hand-made sushi away with you in a container (which Izumi provides), or you can relax and eat it there. We stayed, gorged ourselves on the sushi that we had made (feeling very proud of ourselves), and chatted a little more with Izumi. She is, after all, a fascinating and friendly person on top of being a wonderful teacher.
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Why take this sushi class in London?
Honestly, sushi is one of the most satisfying foods that you can learn to make for yourself. As Izumi herself says, sushi is food for the eyes as well as the stomach. It’s an art form. Just like Japanese tea ceremonies, sushi is viewed as an art just the same as kabuki, bunraku, and origami.
In that regard, you’re learning a traditional form of Japanese art as well as a style of cooking. Sushi is also purely healthy and a wonderful food to know how to prepare. It’s great for parties, and the act of making sushi is so soothing and calming. Frankly, you’re learning so much in these two hours – far more than just a simple method of preparing food.
What makes this class in particular such an enjoyable ride is mostly down to Izumi herself. She’s a fantastic teacher – helpful, clear, supportive, instructive, everything a teacher should be. She will also email you after the class with a detailed PDF of the recipes you’ve just learned, in case there’s anything you forget after the sushi workshop is over.
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Where is Izumi’s sushi class?
You’ll find the Sozai Cooking School at 5 Middlesex Street, London, just a two-minute walk away from Liverpool Street Station. It’s the perfect central location for a sushi class. If you’re getting there via the London Underground, the Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines all run through Liverpool Street.
You can also get an Overground train to Liverpool Street Station. For our class, we actually took a bus. We took the 133 bus straight to Liverpool Street Station, and there are plenty of other buses that congregate at Liverpool Street (just check Google Maps).