Asia, Japan, Travel, Wander

Eat With Shino: A Unique Tokyo Travel Experience

eating with Shino and Akiko in Tokyo

I’m so thrilled to be back online. Can you believe it’s already April? March passed by so quickly that I didn’t even get to write about our romantic Valentine’s Day getaway in Bali. Don’t worry, I promise to make time for that. Now, let me tell you about this incredible experience we had in Tokyo where we were hosted by these beautiful Japanese ladies, Shino and Akiko, who taught us how to make sushi.

kitchen fun in Tokyo

The Inspiration

For some reason, I caught this cooking bug and have been cooking like crazy since we got back here in wild Manila in mid-January. Surely, our neighborhood’s restaurants are missing us already. To my hubby’s delight, this allows him to enjoy a better meal (or so I say) and better beer than dining out .

A few days before our trip to Japan, I came across eatwith.com from a friend’s facebook page. A start-up company founded in 2013 by an Israeli entrepreneur, Guy Michlin, who came up with the idea of connecting tourists with locals for a unique dining experience after being invited by a local Greek family to dine in their own home. His local host served authentic Greek food, which in no way resembled what was served in restaurants. So amazed with the experience, he thought of how this could be shared with millions of other tourists like him seeking authentic travel and dining experiences.

Booking the Food Affair

Fast forward to 2015, navigating their website, I found Shino, a local Japanese lady living in a traditional Japanese home in Tokyo. Together with her husband or sometimes with tea drinking friend Akiko, they host people with itchy feet like us. I booked a sushi-making session and dinner with her. The process was so easy: it only took a few minutes and payment was made through PayPal. Luck was on our side it seems. Even with barely a week’s notice, Shino was so kind to accommodate us. We requested a day other than that offered on the website as it conflicted with our travel to Kobe.

On the day itself, the two ladies — dressed in their beautiful kimonos —  met us in the train station. We stopped by a local supermarket where they showed us some of the most common Japanese household ingredients such as the plant used for wasabi and this sort of jelly with just one calorie per pound of serving. On the way to Shino’s, we picked up 3 bottles of local brews where the owner even gifted us with these lil pouches with samurai printed emblem.

Rolling and Slicing 

Our boy here wearing his apron and with washed hands and clean gloves is ready to learn how to make sushi.

Japanese beer

getting warmed up with Japanese local beer in a sake cup

sushi making guide

here’s a blow up of that sushi making guide Jeff is reading

Being health conscious, Shino opted to use brown rice for the sushi. The first step was to take some rice and spread it on a dark green film made out of seaweed called yakinori. You add cucumber, salmon, cream cheese, and apply a trace of wasabi. The tricky part was rolling it. Mine ended up a bit fat as you can see in the photo below :p

rolled sushi

our very first rolled sushi

That’s me slicing our rolled sushi. I never even thought I’d be preparing food in someone else’s kitchen in a foreign land no less. What a unique experience!

sushi slicing

point, slice, and glide sushi slicing technique

brown rolled sushi

tada…brown rice sushi roll ready to be served

For the Nigiri, we started with slicing the salmon into thin pieces. I was brave enough to attempt it and then later on handed the knife to Jeff to finish the task (and then the first bottle of beer).

Jeff to the rescue

Nigiri

colorful and yummy Nigiri…  some are potent as Jeff applied more than a trace of wasabi

the making of the miso soup

fried tofu stuffed with onions

this onion-stuffed fried tofu was really yummy

look who is eager and can’t wait to dig in

dinner table is ready

my plate

Jeff and Chris ready to eat with Shino and Akiko

Japanese beer

Jeff opens the next bottle of local beer from Shinagawa

Japanese sakura beer

it was so good, I can’t remember it’s name

It was such a delight eating with Shino and Akiko. A unique travel experience that I definitely recommend others to try. Jeff and I felt like we’re visiting old friends. And as Akiko pointed out, good food makes our lives richer.

Here’s the link to Shino’s section on Eat With-

http://www.eatwith.com/offering/1586/

And who knows? Maybe in the future, I will be a host myself, the first one in Manila :p