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Friday, September 16, 2011

Dirty Apron - Japanese Izakaya King Class

I went to a cooking class at Dirty Apron.

They are by the same owner as Medina and Chambar. I heard about the Dirty Apron in the newspaper when they first opened. However when I went to their website, I thought it was expensive. As well, I was only interested in making dessert and baking then and they didn't have much selection in those types of classes. So I just ignored it and went to other schools.

However my coworkers went to a class there and really enjoyed it. It piqued my interest.

So I decided to buy it as a birthday gift. I really wanted to attend the French cooking class, like the Julia Child and make Lobster Thermidor.

Anyways the day that was my friend's birthday, they offered a class on Japanese Izakaya food. If you are unfamiliar with what this's a trend in Japanese food for last couple years here. It's like a tapas food but Japanese fusion. It's really good. I really enjoy but a bit pricey.

Anyways, I wasn't so keen on the class because I didn't think I would cook this again and at $145 per person, I wanted more seafood. I thought about getting a gift certificate but decided that wouldn't be so memorable for a birthday. So I just booked the class.

Here's the class description:
Considering the enormous success of Izakaya joints in our city, we’d like to take you on your very own exciting Japanese pub food ride. Students will be privy to some secret family recipes as taught by The Dirty Apron’s very own Takashi Mizukami. You’ll have a tough time keeping your chopsticks down as you work your way through cooking Prawn Sunamono Salad, Spinach Gomae, Chicken Yakitori, Okonomiyaki Pancakes, and Miso and Sake roasted Sablefish in Dashi-Edamame Broth.

The School:

Here is the school. It is a few doors down from Chambar (excellent restaurant) and Medina (extraordinary Belgian waffles).

Here is the main kitchen where the Chef Takashi Mizukami. I like the set up. Many cooking demos have the mirror but I liked the detail of having the back row with bar stools and front front row with regular chairs. This ensure that everyone could view the demo easily.

Chef Takashi Mizukami is very good presenter. He explains things well, is funny and enjoys what he's doing.

We had our own station with our ingredients. The equipment were commercial grade so the stove was a Wolfe gas stove/oven/grill. The chef knife used was on sale for $140 and cut very well!!

Everything but cooking was done by their staff. All ingredients were measured. The staff washed the pots and bowls. Only thing I had to do was wash my used cooking utensils.

After cooking our food, we went to the dining room and ate. We were served sparkling water, wine and beer. I don't have a picture of the dining room.

The Cooking:

We first had to make the marinade for the sablefish because the marinade had to cool before it could be spread on the uncooked fish.

First we cooked sake and mirin (rice vinegar).

When boiled, we added miso paste and sugar and whisked it until it changed colour. We cooled them and continued to prepare and cook our appetizers.

I peeled the raw spotted prawns for the Okonomiyaki Pancakes.

Then mixed egg, daishi (a Japanese broth) and flour to make the Okonomiyaki Pancakes batter.

Add julienned cabbage and green onion. We let it sit because we needed to prepare our chicken for the yakitori (skewers).

For the yakitori, we cut the chicken and put them on skewers. I forgot to season my chicken but it was ok because the teriyaki glaze is flavorful enough.

Isn't it cool?? This stove top has a grill. I'm in love with this stove!!! Once the chicken was 80% cooked, we brushed the teriyaki sauce and continues to grill the chicken.

While the chicken is cooking, I pan fried the Okonomiyaki Pancakes with the shrimp.

When it was done, we plated our food. We decorated our Okonomiyaki Pancakes with tonkatsu sauce (deep fried pork cutlet), Japanese mayonnaise, bonito flakes and seaweed.

Mmmm.... Time to eat!! The Okonomiyaki Pancakes was excellent. I usually don't like Okonomiyaki especially the tonkatsu sauce at restaurant. I think it's too sweet and don't enjoy it at all. However this was very good. It was a very easy recipe and tasty!!!

The chicken yakitori was also very good too.

After the first course, I gave up taking pictures because it was hard to cook and take pictures so now, you only will see the finished product.

So here was the spinach gommae which was also very good. I like this very much and found it extraordinarily easy to make!! The other dish was shrimp Sunamono. The ingredients was fresh but not enough vinaigrette so not so tasty. Also I was starting to get full with food and 2 bottles of beer.

Here is a picture of the miso and sake roasted sablefish. Sablefish is black cod. It is one of my most favourite fish since it's so buttery!! Chef Takashi Mizukami explained that it's probably a name change for marketing purposes. Black cod was unpopular fish because it was bony and ugly looking so each time it was caught, it was just thrown out. Japanese and Korean started to use that fish for cooking. Then after the name change, many high end restaurants started to use them and now they are very expensive.

Here is the third course: Miso and Sake roasted Sablefish in Dashi-Edamame Broth. It was soooooooo good. OMG!! I was looking forward to this dish but it was beyond good. I can't describe how buttery and moist the fish was. The miso sake marinade was perfect. It was salty and perfectly sweet (and I don't like sweet taste in my savory food).

The broth was also very good too. It was so good and easy to make and impressive. Great entertaining dish.

They served us a fourth course which was freshly churned green tea ice cream. I enjoy green tea ice cream but not crazy about it. I guess it's because I didn't grow with it. But this green tea ice cream was the best I've ever had. It was so creamy, so luxurious. I wanted to lick the bowl. I couldn't believe how good this ice cream. It was Soooo amazing!!!

Final Thoughts:
It's a bit expensive but it was a fun evening!! The school is well organized, had high end equipment, good quality ingredients and excellent service (ie dish washing and drink service). I liked how we watched the demo, cooked, relax and eat, then start again for the next course. It gave variation to the evening.

I enjoyed the food and like how doable the food are. I can make the food easily at home and impress guests and friends.

It definitely surpassed my expectations!!

I would take their classes again and definitely with friends as it's a nice way to spend the evening!!!! I wouldn't be able to afford taking their classes regularly though.

Great experience, great food and great times!!!

Do give them a try!!!!

Link to Dirty Apron Cooking School

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