The city best food experiences

If you really want to get to the heart of Tokyo‘s culinary scene, you’ll need to go beyond the city’s bustling restaurants and best-loved drinking dens. Rebecca Hallett booked onto one of the city’s cooking classes and learnt about more than just the food.

I’m about to eat fresh wasabi. I hate wasabi, but have been assured that it tastes different when grated directly from the root. I’m not sure I’m convinced.

Still, I take the spoon, pick up the tiniest amount and raise it unwillingly to my lips. And…

“See, I told you it tastes different! It’s much more fresh and mellow like this. Most of the green paste you see in cheap sushi-ya is made of horseradish and green food colouring, with just a little wasabi added. It makes it harsh and chemical-tasting, too overpowering.”

This is about the fiftieth nugget of foodie information chef and Tokyo Cooking Studio-founder Yukari Matsushita has served up – and we’re still only making the salad. It’s fair to say that I’m learning a lot at Yukari’s cookery class.

And not everything I’m learning is about Japanese food, either. Yukari is Japanese, but she studied French cuisine and worked in a San Francisco restaurant before marrying a Taiwanese man.

Eventually, she opened the Tokyo Cooking Studio (near Shimokitazawa) in which we’re now making our scallop, avocado and wasabi salad.

Their motto is “think globally, act locally” and that comes through in the class; between the five of us we speak at least four languages and our conversations run the gamut from British cuisine’s unfair reputation to why French-Japanese fusion baking is so delicious. (It’s because “the cuisines rely on different flavour profiles but similar techniques, so they’re very complementary,” in case you were wondering).