Wow. That is, in a word, how I would sum-up the sushi school I attended this morning at YO! Sushi in Farringdon.
In the same the kitchen where they train their professional chefs, we were shown how to sharpen and handle the yanagi-ba (special sashimi knife); how to cut salmon, tuna and sea bass for nigiri and sashimi; how to prepare prawns; how to shape rice; and finally how to put it all together and plate-up with assorted garnishes.
It was, without a doubt, one of the best foodie experiences I’ve ever had. Our teacher, Chris (also head chef at the branch), was really approachable as well as being fantastic at explaining things. During his demonstrations he made it appear so easy – the mark of a true master – but, inevitably, when we tried each skill, it was much harder than it looked. However, he was so encouraging that it was impossible to feel downhearted – even when one’s first few attempts at cutting nigiri slices looked like something fit only for a cat to eat. There were nine people in the class, which was a small enough group to enable him to come round and give everyone individual help and to answer all of our questions, and we were provided with very generous quantities of fish to practise on.
There was plenty of advice on where to source the best fish for sushi (for quality coupled with convenience, it’s Waitrose or Sainsbury’s, give the other supermarkets a miss people; for the absolute top-end, head to Billingsgate) and how to store it, as well as information about where to source other key ingredients.
One of the most useful tips was how to get your blocks of rice perfectly formed for nigiri, but you’ll have to attend a class yourself to find that out… (or email me and I might let you in on the secret ).
Learning the requisite knife skills to work in a YO! Sushi restaurant takes six months; after three hours I came away with a knowledge of the fundamentals to build on, as well as a huge sense of satisfaction. Most of all, it was great fun.
The class was followed by a specially prepared lunch, and we were presented with certificates. We were given our knives and aprons to take home, which I thought was a nice touch, as well as an invaluable booklet with loads of step-by-step pictures summarising everything we had learnt. When I booked, they were running a 2-4-1 offer, so for £60 per person this was impressive value for money, especially since I also brought home enough sushi to feed about four people.
VERY highly recommended. You can find all the details here and plenty of pics below.
If you’d rather try teaching yourself at home, I really rate the YO! Sushi cookbook too.
(And please excuse the poor quality photos taken with my phone, best I could do today!)