A taste of izakaya fare (or why I didn’t see Wylie Dufresne tonight)

I did not go to the Wylie Dufresne lecture at Harvard tonight.


Because I was too busy attending an izakaya cooking class at Cambridge Center for Adult Education on the other side of the square. An izakaya is a Japanese bar. Not the kind of bar that you’re thinking of, but generally a small hole-in-the-wall  where you go after work to grab some beers and nibble on food. I’ve been to Japan a few times, but I’ve never stepped into an izakaya, mostly because I don’t drink. However, after watching clips of Kodoku no Gurume or episodes of Shinya Shokudo, and hearing my friends who have lived in Japan rave about izakaya foods… I started getting curious. Luckily for me, CCAE held an izakaya cooking class for the first time ever, under the title “Japanese Small Plates” and taught by Yoko Bryden.

The only bad thing about the class? The pacing is a little weird. Class started at 6:30p, but two hours were spent making sauces, marinating, soaking rice, and answering questions. I started wondering if we’d be done before class was supposed to end. But then in the last hour, cooking and eating went fairly quickly. In fact, we finished class fifteen minutes early.

As for the food that was made:
1) raw tuna with grated Japanese mountain yam
2) lotus roots stuffed with seasoned ground beef, served with ponzu sauce
3) smashed cucumber
4) rice with scallion/miso
5) fried tofu skins stuffed with scallions and katsuobushi
6) grilled chicken and scallions on skewers

Yoko also served some hiyayakko but I didn’t partake in that because I’m allergic to tofu. (Yes, this Chinese American girl is allergic to tofu. The universe laughs at me.)

Everything tasted really good. The grilled chicken was probably my favorite.  The fried tofu was probably the second favorite.  I’m not posting any pictures or any recipes out of respect for the instructor and for CCAE, so you’ll just have to sign up for the class if possible and discover everything for yourself… and then discover that you are suddenly in the mood to gorge on Japanese food but can’t because there was only-oh-so-much food made!


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(edit to add – Yoko’s blog is currently in Japanese only.  She is working on an English version.)