Kyaraben: Japanese character lunch box lesson March 4th


Nagomi Kitchen Kyaraben Cooking Lesson

I have to be honest. I was always in awe of the pictures circulating the internet of bento boxes decorated like album covers like Radiohead and Lady Gaga, but was never a loyal follower of all things kyaraben before participating in the Nagomi Kitchen Kyaraben Cooking Lesson. It just looked too time consuming! However after going through the steps of making the head and ears, little tofu ball faces, and cherry tomato and sausage flowers with our charming guest from Malaysia last Sunday, although I might not make these character bento boxes everyday, I now know that I actually like making them.

Nagomi Kitchen Kyaraben Cooking Lesson

The goal of the class is of course to make this kyaraben but you will be introduced to recipes and techniques that can be used for normal bento making when you are too busy to go through all the kyaraben making steps. The tofu balls are a great example of some good basic bento side dishes.

Nagomi Kitchen Kyaraben Cooking Lesson

Bento making in general has become quite popular around the world so we’re hoping to recruit more here at Nagomi Kitchen!

Note: we no longer conduct Nagomi Kitchen cooking classes but feel free to look for Nagomi Visit hosts who are interested in cooking with you by checking their profile pages. Nagomi Visits are not cooking classes but it will be an enjoyable experience like cooking with a friend.

Basic Japanese Cooking lesson Feb. 23rd


Nagomi Visit home cooking

This Thursday we had a lovely guest from the US and his father participate in our Basic Japanese Cooking lesson. They were such fun and enthusiastic guests that I, myself, very much enjoyed my time with them.

Nagomi Visit home cooking

It was fantastic seeing families like them really trying to dig deep into Japanese culture during their short stay in Japan. Especially the father, who although it was his first time in Asia, he really made an effort to learn Japanese by listening to language CDs. Honestly I’m never usually that easily impressed by people being able to speak Japanese but this time it was special since every now and then he would blurt out a Japanese word or phrase he learned and it wasn’t just once or twice! Subarashii! Very good.

“Food was great and the staff exceptional. I had a lot of fun and was very comfortable. If I am ever in Japan again, I will sign up again.” we were told! Hopefully their Home Visit experience, which they booked at the same time, will be as good or maybe even better?

Nagomi Visit home cooking

Recently we have been receiving a lot of requests where the same people participate in both the cooking and Home Visit programs during their stays so we’re working hard right now at Nagomi Kitchen to increase the number of host families so more people will be able to participate in both programs. Definitely great to hear.

Nagomi Visit home cooking

As a Japanese-American, I'm always glad when people are interested in learning about Japanese culture since I feel like they are learning about a part of my identity. This is especially true of course when visitors are from the US so hopefully see you next time at Nagomi Kitchen! Matane!

Note: we no longer conduct Nagomi Kitchen cooking classes but feel free to look for Nagomi Visit hosts who are interested in cooking with you by checking their profile pages. Nagomi Visits are not cooking classes but it will be an enjoyable experience like cooking with a friend.'s what's for dinner


Nagomi Visit home cooking

Today I made a Japanese style soup with bacon for dinner. I suppose if I still were in the States I might have made the soup with potatoes, cheese, leeks, or beans but this time since I am in Japan using Japanese bacon, the soup had a light chicken broth base with mizuna, enoki mushrooms, and green onions.

I suppose everyone has their opinion of Japanese bacon depending on where they come from. Coming from the States you might be surprised at how it tastes more like ham. But as long as you know how to cook with it, I’m hoping you will crave more of these new set of flavors rather than just longing for whatever is back home.

Using bacon with ingredients like asparagus, spinach, potatoes, and cheese is quite common in Japan but I love it when I find bacon recipes that really have an obvious Japanese twist to it like bacon and nanohana blossoms pasta. You can either make a simple version with just basic flavors like olive oil, garlic, red pepper, and of course salt and pepper, but a cream sauce would work well too. Add any sort of Japanese mushroom you find at the supermarket that day that is cheap like maitake mushrooms and voila!

I honestly cannot imagine my Japanese mother making this dish at home since it definitely is the younger generation that has incorporated this new ingredient into their diet for better or for worse. However, it is not uncommon for quick and easy East meets West types of dishes like these to appear in a modern Japanese home cooked meal.

So although it is definitely good to learn about purely Japanese ingredients, sometimes it is fun to learn how these perhaps more familiar ingredients are used in Japanese home cooked meals.

Make sure to ask us about seasonal vegetables like nanohana during our Nagomi Kitchen cooking lessons because spring is coming to Japan and it’s definitely an exciting time for food here!

Note: we no longer conduct Nagomi Kitchen cooking classes but feel free to look for Nagomi Visit hosts who are interested in cooking with you by checking their profile pages. Nagomi Visits are not cooking classes but it will be an enjoyable experience like cooking with a friend.

Bonito Nagomi Kitchen!


Today we held Learn basic Japanese cooking lesson with four guests.

Nagomi Kitchen on EL INTERMEDIO

Deanna from France, she live in Japan for just 2 month and her friend in France booked this lesson as a gift for Deanna. We are really glad that Nagomi Kitchen was chosen as a gift.

In addition the TV crew Pablo, Pedro and Marcos from Spain joined our cooking lesson to shoot their program, EL INTERMEDIO (Channel: LA SEXTA)

Nagomi Kitchen on EL INTERMEDIO

So, today's lesson was conducted in various languages including French, Spanish, Japanese and of course English.

Before cooking, I told them about the Japanese soup stock, Dashi. It's made from edible kelp and dried bonito. Then Pablo said "Bonito? It's mean beautiful in Spanish!" I did not know about that but it's interesting the same word means fish and beautiful.

Nagomi Kitchen on EL INTERMEDIO

I received kind comments from them about their impressions of Nagomi Kitchen's cooking lesson.

From Pedro: The kitchen is very nice. Very spacious, charm, lovely place. Megumi is a very kind and lovely person and her mum is also very kind. They are both very funny.

From Pablo: So friendly people and so tasty food that I want to settle in this kitchen forever!

From Deanna: Really friendly, food is really good! Thanks a lot.

Nagomi Kitchen on EL INTERMEDIO

We also enjoyed today's lesson. I'm looking forward to watch today's lesson on Spanish TV program at the end of March and believe Deanna will be able to cook today's menu for her friends when she back home.

Note: we no longer conduct Nagomi Kitchen cooking classes but feel free to look for Nagomi Visit hosts who are interested in cooking with you by checking their profile pages. Nagomi Visits are not cooking classes but it will be an enjoyable experience like cooking with a friend.

More than just Kikkoman


More than just Kikkoman

It was two years ago when I first realized the amazing variety of soy sauce brands that were available in Japan. I attended a soy sauce tasting event similar to a wine tasting where you would learn about the people and regions where the soy sauce was made and how best to use it in your cooking. I had seen the extensive selection of soy sauce in my local supermarket in Tokyo before attending this event but actually sampling the different soy sauce and tasting the difference, I finally started to view individual soy sauce like microbrews and wanted to continue trying more.

Discovering these differences in flavors within basic Japanese ingredients such as soy sauce has been an exciting process for me having grown up in a Japanese family living in Texas where Kikkoman soy sauce was the most accessible product out there. Although there is nothing wrong with sticking to Kikkoman since it is the most popular Japanese soy sauce around, it is great to know that I have other options making Japanese cooking that much more exciting to experiment with.

While there are many other soy sauce brands around the world, it would definitely be nice if everyone could try more Japan made soy sauces if they are looking for something to use in their Japanese cooking. I’ve also been trying a variety of Japanese mirin, dashi, and even salts and sugars and it is exciting how each distinct brand has a different nuanced flavor making my food come out different every time. So make sure to visit a supermarket next time you come to Japan and if you have any questions about products that are sold in the supermarket feel free to ask us at Nagomi Kitchen.

Miso soup beyond tofu


Miso soup beyond tofu

Yesterday I went to a friends house and was surprised that she served miso soup with fresh ginger. Being a fan of all things ginger, I searched around on the internet both in Japanese and English for similar recipes. Although it wasn’t one of the most popular ingredients when it comes to miso soup, there seemed to be quite a few fans out there that liked it most during the wintertime to warm up. Seemed like a logical combination but I guess it just never crossed my mind to try it out.

It’s little discoveries like these that make miso soup exciting. A soup that seems so simple and straight forward has so much potential.

Miso soup is a staple menu in Japanese restaurant’s worldwide but I always feel that there is something lacking in them. Yes there are restaurants that get it right of course, but often times it just tastes like hot water with just miso and no depth. But I think what makes them less exciting is that there is not much variety when it comes to the actual ingredients inside the miso soup. It’s always tiny pieces of tofu, wakame seaweed, and maybe some green onions.

But don’t get me wrong, having tofu and wakame is not the problem. It’s the most basic yet most popular ingredient for miso soup. It’s just that even if you are just making this basic miso soup, I feel like not many people realize there is still a lot of room for creativity. You can just start from using different types of tofu. Of course you can choose between the basic hard or soft tofu but different brands have different flavors, especially fresh tofu, so it’s best to try all of them out. You can also cut the tofu into small pieces or large depending on what you put in with the tofu. There is also of course the option of using different dashi soup stock.

I suppose its best to make your own dashi from scratch but for everyday miso soup I use an ago flying fish dashi packet that looks like a tea bag because I personally like the more nuanced flavors that come from this dashi than when I use the popular Ajinomoto Hondashi. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a pretty good miso soup with Hondashi so I don’t want people to knock it since it is the most accessible instant dashi out there. I think the key is to make sure that the flavors from your ingredients become part of the broth, adding more depth. That’s where the ingredients play a big role in making the flavor in your miso soup unique.

Besides tofu, I like potatoes in my miso soup with wakame but my husband is more of a daikon radish or taro fan which makes the soup base sweeter. Onions and cabbage are also options that make the soup base sweeter. An alternative to normal tofu would be fried tofu which is less oily than it sounds so it is one of my favorites. There are also all sorts of mushrooms in Japan so whichever one is the cheapest on that day usually ends up in our miso soups.

The tonjiru pork base miso soup that is part of the Nagomi Kitchen Japanese basic cooking class menu, although the dish has it’s own name, it really is a variation of miso soup. Since tonjiru has a lot of ingredients in it, we’re hoping it will help people to taste how all these ingredients blend with the miso, to get a sense of the potential miso soup has beyond your normal tofu, wakame, and green onion combination.

Even after you’ve done making the miso soup, there is also the option of putting a dash of shichimi chilli pepper just before you eat if you’re a fan of spice like me. So as you can tell, the combinations are endless so next time you are craving some miso soup, try these options out to break away from your normal miso soup cycle. Or if you are planning on joining us at Nagomi Kitchen, feel free to ask us questions because that's what we're here for!

How to make carrot flower


This is the simmered vegetables which called as Nimono(煮物)in Japanese.

How to make carrot flower

Simmer carrot, lotus root, “Konnyaku” and any other vegetables with soy sauce, mirin and Sake. Sometimes we add the chicken in it as well. The taste of these kind of Nimono depends on each home.

Do you want to try making this carrot flower? Check the video below you can find how to make it. (Though it's in Japanese, but you can understand by just watch it.)

Make Home-made Takoyaki at your Nagomi Visit


Takoyaki is a Japanese wheat flour-based snack filled with diced octopus.

Home-made Nagomi Visit Takoyaki

Although you can eat it at food stalls especially in the Osaka area, at a Nagomi Visit you will be able to make home-made ones.

Home-made Nagomi Visit Takoyaki

Mix flour, eggs and water (sometimes use dashi stock) then fry it in the special pan, put the boiled octopus and keep turning them until they are round shapes. Place it on plate, and pour the Takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, seaweed powder and bonito flakes.

Home-made Nagomi Visit Takoyaki

Nagomi Visit is a great opportunity to discover regional dishes and of course interesting people all across Japan.

Home-made Nagomi Visit Takoyaki

Osechi - dish for celebrate new year in Japan


Osechi - dish for celebrate new year in Japan

Happy new year!

In Japan people eat traditional meal on new year days. This meal called as Osechi and it's variety kind of dishes and serves in a bento-box style plate.

People eat this Osechi with family and friends to celebrate new year. I cooked Osechi for this year! We can also buy Osechi at department store, supermarket or even via internet in these days but I tried to cook it with my sister on 31st Dec.

Datemaki Tamago 伊達巻きたまご - Rolled up sweet omlet

Osechi - Datemaki Tamago 伊達巻きたまご - Rolled up sweet omlet

I love this sweet omlet very much! Originally my grand mother bought us a special Datemaki every year so my favorite taste of Datemaki is not a homemade but I wanted to try to cook by myself.

Kuromame 黒豆 - Sweet black beans

Osechi - Kuromame 黒豆 - Sweet black beans

Cooking this dish takes a long time but we use pressure pot for this time so could save the time lot ;)

Steamed shrimp えびの出汁煮

Osechi - Steamed shrimp えびの出汁煮

All menu for Osechi has meaning and shrimp meaning "live a long time" because hip of shrimp stoop such as old man.

Kurikinton 栗きんとん -Sweet potato with chestnut

Osechi - Kurikinton 栗きんとん -Sweet potato with chestnut

Kurikinton is my favorite Osechi menu as well. My mother made it every year when I was child :) This is the sweet potato colored with brilliant yellow and put in some chestnut.

Typically this Osechi cooked a lot and have eaten for some days but we didn't cook a lot for this time so it have been finished after few hours from 12:00 on Jan. 1st ;)

Making Original Kyaraben with Nagomi Visit


We made original kyaraben character bento box with Elizabeth who come from USA and Ai who come from Japan on last Wednesday.

First of all, started to make Tofu meatballs with teriyaki sauce.The teriyaki sauce made by same amount of Soy sauce, sugar, Sake and Mirin which the sweet cooking sake. It's easy to remember isn't it?

They fried meatballs with big smile!

From this time we prepared apron for each participants. The color is beige and black and the Japanese taste pattern on the pockets.So you don't have to bring anything when join our cooking program!

Second step was making the character, it's a main event of the program :)I have a sample but participants can make it as absolutely original face with Nori seaweed.

Elizabeth made a eyebrow of Picachu, it's a very manlike. Nice!

She said she would like to join again when her friend come to Tokyo or another cooking program offered.

I updated the comments from participants who joined our cooking program, please check it.

Note: Nagomi Visit no longer offers these bento cooking classes but in our current Nagomi Visits you can cook together with our hosts.