Because there’s no better souvenir than taking a skill home with you.

Tokyo is filled with famous tourist spots, specialty stores, and thousands upon thousands of unique restaurants. With so much to do in the city, it can be hard to fit everything into a tight itinerary and even more difficult to narrow your choices down for lunch, but recently we came across a unique experience that will solve both these problems. Plus, it’ll equip you with a new skill that will impress your friends and family when you return home from your trip!

It’s a sushi-making experience run by Japanese restaurant Hassan, located in Roppongi.

The restaurant, which actually specialises in nabe-style hot pot dishes, is located below street level, making it easy for passersby to miss. And while the multi-language sign outside hints at the delicious meals on offer, only those in the know will be aware of the hidden sushi-making class that lies below.

Descending down the stairs, you’ll be whisked away from the hustle and bustle of the busy street above and into a beautifully decorated haven filled with traditional details.

Waitresses in kimono are ready to guide you to a private room, where you’ll be seated at a table with sushi-making ingredients and utensils laid out in front of you.

A sushi chef then guides you through the history of sushi, from its arrival in Japan from Southeast Asia through to the Edo Period (1603-1868), when the dish became popularised in Tokyo. After the Great Kanto Earthquake devastated many parts of Tokyo (then known as Edo) in 1923, many sushi chefs were forced to relocate away from the capital, popularising the dish throughout the country.

▼ After the informative presentation, the master sushi chef enters with his knife and a fresh fish.

Then it’s time to watch in awe as he shares his techniques for making a perfect plate of sashimi.

▼ He removes the bones with one deft movement…

▼ Peels the skin off with ease…

▼ Before slicing the meat to create delicate sashimi slices.

After watching the chef’s skills, it’s time to try making your very own sushi, with the chef guiding you through the process of preparing makizushi (rolled sushi) and nigiri (hand-moulded) sushi.

First, we pop on our gloves to get started on the makizushi roll, taking our portion of rice from the cute kimono doll bowl and placing it on a sheet of seaweed upon the bamboo rolling mat.

▼ After laying our ingredients inside, it’s time to roll!

While it’s a little tricky to master the rolling technique, having the chef there to guide you through it means you’ll have two rolls complete in no time.

Then it’s time to move on to the nigiri sushi lesson, where you’ll be wowed with a platter of fresh ingredients.

Once you’ve chosen your favourites, the chef will slice them up professionally for you in seconds, laying each slice out on a plate for you to work with.

Then all you have to do is use your fingers and palm to mould a small amount of rice, laying the fish on top at the same time. Sound easy? Well, actually it’s not as easy as it looks – according to the chef, this technique takes years to master.

▼ Job done!

Now all that’s left to do is slice up our makizushi rolls, and the sushi chef has techniques to share for this too, including tips on how to dress up the dish for best presentation.

And there you have it! Makizushi and nigiri sushi made by a professional chef. So how did we hold up against the master?

Well, apart from the makizushi looking messed up and uneven, it wasn’t too bad! And that’s all thanks to the sushi chef, who gave us tips we never knew about before, and techniques that will stay with us well into the future.

We’re still a long way off from making sushi as good as these ones made by the chef, but at least now we have something to aspire to!

After all our hard work, we’re rewarded with a feast that includes more than just our sushi morsels. There’s miso soup served on the side, along with a delicious beef sukiyaki that’s guaranteed to fill your belly.

▼ Sukiyaki is traditionally eaten by dipping cooked hot pot ingredients into raw egg.

At the end of the experience you’ll be rewarded with a certificate signed by the master chef to acknowledge your completion of the short course. It’s a wonderful way to remember the meal you made in Tokyo under the supervision of a master, and when you return home, you’ll have a whole new set of skills to whip out at a dinner party to impress your friends!

The sushi-making experience costs 5,000 yen (US$47.04) per person, which includes two rolled sushi, eight nigiri sushi, miso soup, and a sukiyaki hot pot. Reservations are required at least 48 hours prior to your booking, and the course is available for 4-40 people at a time, so grab your friends and head to Hassan for a sushi-making experience to remember!

Photos © SoraNews24
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