When I went to Kyoto last year, I got an opportunity to cook in a Japanese home with some locals through this site called TravelingSpoon. It was such a neat opportunity because how rarely do you actually get to try local food as local as homemade? I mean, even the best of travellers probably have a hard time finding a family to invite them in and cook a meal for them.

We started off the day 9 AM at Nishiki Market in Kyoto. Keiko, our host, brought her friend Naiomi, which is a retired nutritionist and used to give cooking classes. Keiko’s English was amazing for someone who had only studied in the United States for a year, but you could tell she was an adventurous woman and loved that she was getting to meet all these travelers.

Inside Nishiki Market

After talking a lot about local produce, Keiko said in recent years, Nishiki Market has actually transformed into something more touristy. The chestnuts, which were once locally sourced, now were imported from China. She told me she would love to bring travelers to more local markets in Kyoto, where actual residents shop. I was more than sure travelers would very much love and appreciate that.

Keiko drove us back to her home, which was some 20 minutes away and that was such a nice treat to see sites outside the city. It’s so rare that you get to see more residential areas especially when you visit big metropolis areas like Tokyo and Kyoto. Also, I had been on the road in Japan for about two weeks at that point staying in hotels and some AirBnbs, but it was so welcoming to go into an actual home with an actual host teaching and feeding you. Keiko and Naomi were such warm and welcoming hosts. They even asked where I would be going after the class and offered to drop me off.

Anyways, on the menu was a Japanese beef and potato stew, which Keiko thought Americans could easily relate to and wouldn’t be too strange. Then it was Naomi’s take on a healthy, oil-less chicken teriyaki, which was so so delicious. Course three was a steamed seafood soup topped off with this cloud of Japanese radish and egg whites. It was one of the most unique preparations I had seen.

Keiko and Naomi also prepared me appetizers like lotus root and tamagoyaki, which is a sweetened Japanese egg omelette of sorts cut into pieces. They also made a vegetable and tofu soup, which was warming and lovely.

I loved my time in Keiko and Naomi’s kitchen. One of my favorite things to do is to learn local recipes, but it’s really hard to do even with the internet and all the cookbooks we have. Home-cooked dishes are not often shared and are unique to each household, so this opportunity was quite rare and I’m thankful for it.

Just seeing the insides of the kitchen and all the equipment was fascinating. Keiko had an electric stove that had a timer for each unit built right in. So while we were preparing the teriyaki, we had the timer set for the beef and potato stew.

Thank you so much to Keiko and Naomi for having me! It was such a pleasure meeting and cooking with you both.