Centred around just 5 basic seasonings, Atsukos Kitchen will get you cooking great tasting, healthy, authentic, home style Japanese food in a matter of weeks. Held in the cafe at The Grocery on Kingsland Rd, these easy going and informal courses will teach you practical dishes that you can prepare easily at home and, though popular in Japan, chances are you probably won’t have eaten them in a restaurant before.
Expect to learn 4 or 5 new dishes per evening on these 5 week courses - which are well equipped, with ample opportunity to prep and cook for everyone. A sit down meal at the end of each session ensures you get to enjoy all the scrummy food cooked that evening. Atsuko also holds one-off workshops where you can learn to make Japanese Style Tapas “Japas” and “Bento”, Japanese lunch boxes.
When we dropped by, special guest chef and author Mari Fujii, was teaching Shojin-Ryori - traditional Buddhist temple fare. This style of cookery depends on certain rules of no meat or fish, nothing pungent, like onions or garlic, that the whole of the vegetable be used from seed to leaf and that the food pertains to the seasons. On the menu was ginger rice, baby soya bean soup, mock boiled egg (made of tofu and carrot), mock eel (made of potato and seaweed) and freeze-dried tofu and sweet potato stew.
True to form, all the imagination and attention to detail that you expect from Japanese cookery was there and the dishes were colourful, and tasty. There may not, however, be a mad rush for the mock boiled eggs which, though looking rather amazing, didn't quite live up to the prep that went into them, nor the produce they were emulating.
One tip we learned that may interest any avid cling film users - Japanese cling film is much stronger than ours.