Japanese home cooking may be pretty simple, but if you haven’t had the chance to witness the actual practice of preparing the dishes, there are always nuances that are lost when you just follow a recipe. This is often exacerbated by the inevitable inaccuracies of translation. How you work out what kind of starch is used to dust tofu for frying, gauge whether oil has been heated to the right temperature for deep frying tempura or whether you’ve wrapped your gyoza correctly is made so much clearer when an expert shows you how to do it and talks you through the process as you try your hand at it. It’s doubly useful when the person guiding you speaks the same language that you do. This is why Haru Cooking Class in Kyoto is such a gem of a find.
During our most recent trip to Kyoto, my wife S and I had the pleasure of staying in a gorgeous resort in the Arashiyama region. But whether or not you stay overnight in this area, Arashiyama is well worth visiting. Its history as a popular destination stretches back to the Heian Period (794-1185). Today, its combination of stunning natural landscapes, Tenryuji Temple, postcard-worthy bamboo groves, and a treasure trove of small restaurants and shops make this far Western part of Kyoto (among domestic travellers) the second most visited tourist area in Kyoto.
One Saturday morning in late January, while visiting friends in San Francisco, we decided to take a day trip to Berkeley. While we had several reasons for going there, one of the most important was to check out some of that area’s most highly-regarded eating places. I asked my friends, some of whom knew the area well, for recommendations on where we should go to — after all, I was the tourist and they were the locals. While there were a lot of options thrown around for lunch, dinner and snacks in between, everyone agreed on where we should have breakfast. They all said Rick and Ann’s.