Japanese food is a culinary adventure! From classic dishes like sushi and ramen to street foods like takoyaki and taiyaki, there is something for everyone to adore when it comes to Japanese food. And although London is a fair way from Tokyo, there are some fantastic Japanese cooking classes available in London.
One such London cookery school is Yuki’s Kitchen. Originally from a little outside Tokyo, and having spent some time working in Chicago, Yuki now offers tempura and udon making classes in South London. Tempura, put simply, is fried vegetables, fish, and tofu (battered deliciousness), but there’s a true craft to it which Yuki can help you hone. Udon is a style of rustic, thick noodle from Japan that are wholesome a versatile.
At Yuki’s London cookery school you can learn to be a master of both tempura and udon, two of the staples of Japanese home cooking. They’re also two styles of cooking that are easy to grasp but are still very much an artform. Here’s what Yuki and her kitchen can offer you.
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Why Take a Cooking Class?
Taking cooking classes in London is a practical and exciting way to learn new skills and expand your cultural horizons. So many secrets about cultures far and wide are revealed through their cooking, and so much of Japan’s majesty is hidden in its traditional foods.
Taking cooking classes like the one offered at Yuki’s Kitchen allows you to understand the foods of the world and learn to make them in your own home!
Making Tempura and Udon
Attending Yuki’s tempura and udon class is like being invited to dinner by your wonderfully talented friend. Yuki’s kitchen offers an intimate atmosphere to make you feel welcome and perfectly at home as you’re sat around the table with your group, all listening to Yuki’s enthusiastic stories about her life and her wealth of expert training in the US, UK, and Japan.
This is cleverly woven in with Yuki’s clear instructions, top tips, and expert secrets that even professional chefs would find interesting. Yuki’s infectious personality never fails to shine through and you’re always completely at ease with her and your group. This is, after all, the secret to a good teacher: someone you can trust to deliver knowledge, support, and practical skills, but also someone you can bond with and feel a kinship with.
The tempura and udon class at Yuki’s Kitchen starts with learning how to make dashi, the stock which is a fundamental base for so much of Japanese cooking. Once this is down, you’ll then move on to preparing and making the tempura.
During the class, Yuki was kind enough to show two different ways of preparing the tempura batter, in case you’re cooking for you and your family or for a much larger group. This is sensible since people come to cooking classes for a range of reasons – either to cook more healthily or diversely for themselves, or even to throw dinner parties at home.
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As you’re mastering the basics of tempura making, you’ll be taught how to prepare the vegetables and be provided with essential insights like keeping your flour, egg, and water as cold as possible during the tempura preparation. This is to achieve a finished product of the fluffiest, lightest possible tempura.
Over six kinds of vegetables (including mushroom, pumpkin, asparagus and more), fish (Kochi) and tofu are prepared in front of you by Yuki, and then you also get the chance to get stuck in and have a go.
You’ll also make kakiage tempura, which is more reminiscent of an onion bhaji and will go into your completed udon later in the cooking class. Luckily, at this point, you’re able to start eating because the smell is permeating the room like the best kind of home cooking and your stomach will be rumbling.
So make sure to go into the class a little hungry because you’ll be coming out full!
Next comes the hard work. Kneading udon dough is no easy feat; the dough is tough and needs time to get right. If you want to make it easier then it’s time to get traditional! Yuki will have you wrap your dough in a bag and start using your feet. It’s effective, it’s fun, and works up your appetite all over again for the end result.
You’re shown how to cut the dough effectively to make a delicious pile of udon noodles that we would all later share and you can take your own kneaded dough home for a follow-up treat.
Finally, the best part of any cooking class: you get to eat the delicious dish you made. Sitting with Yuki and the rest of the class and enjoying this meal that you’ve prepared, along with stories about travels in Japan and your favourite foods while filling your bellies with warm udon is an absolute delight and a perfect guard against the chilly winter air outside.
You take away a recipe booklet so that you can easily make your tasty recipe at home with your fresh hand-made dough. This also helps in case you forget any of the steps that Yuki teaching you during the cooking class.
Yuki’s classes are fun, intimate, and a real pleasure to indulge in, and I’d happily take more of these wonderful Japanese cooking lessons.
What other classes does Yuki offer?
If you’re interested in any aspect of Japanese cooking, Yuki probably has a class for it. From her sushi and sashimi classes to gyoza and ramen noodle making or even an introduction to fish and seafood prepared in the Japanese way.
You can even learn how to make your own miso! There’s every chance you’ll be coming back for more lessons here. Yuki’s classes book up well in advance so make sure you plan ahead as much as possible.
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Where is Yuki’s Kitchen?
Her home is located in South London in the Crystal Palace area. There’s plenty to do nearby if you want to kill time before or after the class. I explored the vintage clothing shops, went book shopping and got a coffee. Yuki provides detailed instructions on how to get to her house via email when you book and you always contact her via email and mobile.
Jess is the creator and editor of Books and Bao. She's passionate about the world, its literature, food, culture, and people. She enjoys sharing her travel tips with others and capturing those perfect moments.