Cooking class with Yakitori Chef in Japan
I'm planning a food-centric vacation to Japan (probably focusing on Tokyo) this summer. One thing that I'd like to do is get some cooking instruction from a yakitori chef. I'm addicted to the stuff...so much so that I have my own konro (yakitori grill -- yes, using binchotan charcoal) at home and make yakitori any chance I get (my kids LOVE the stuff). I have researched the cooking schools in Tokyo -- but none of them offer real yakitori instruction using charcoal grill. Anyone know of a yakitori chef who might be interested in providing instruction?
Thanks in advance for your suggestions and help.
I have been waiting to see if anyone would ever respond to this somewhat interesting post but I guess it is not going to happen. The reason being, I believe, that yakitori, as with many other Japanese foods, are not taught in a classroom but by direct transmission, from one person to another. All the people I know that have yakitori shops, or sushi as well, learned their "stuff" by working for and or with their masters, people that had such and such restaurants.
That being said, I think that if you are really into yakitori that you may be able to find someone to coach you, to give you some advice. But it will most likely need to be from some sort of personal relationship with the person you want to learn from. In other words, find a place you like, get to know the person, even if it is only for two or three days, and then ask him to teach you. And when I say "him" I mean as it is almost always going to be a male.
The two big things you will most likely want to need learn are how to cut up a chicken Japan style and how to make tare, the marinate sauce. Butchering is easy; good tare takes years to develop. If you find a yakitori shop you really like and ask someone for some basic translation help, I am sure the master will help you out.
Thank you, edozanmai, for your advice. After hours searching the internet, contacting cooking schools in Tokyo to see if they can make an introduction and generally racking my brain for ideas, your idea seems to be my best bet. I'll try to find a neighborhood yakitori restaurant in an out of the way part of of Tokyo and give your idea a try when I'm there.
There is an amazing yakitori book that is relatively new - there are step by step instructions with pictures for each step for yakitori preparations from a bunch of famous yakitori restaurants in Japan. Regardless of whether you find personal help, the book would be invaluable to you. Even without reading Japanese, you would probably learn more from the book than a single day in a yakitori restaurant.