Make your own sushi at Nigiri-za

Have you ever sat at a sushi counter and thought, “I could do that!”? Or, are you one of those entranced by sushi-makers as they effortlessly create beautiful nigiri-zushi? Whichever camp you fall into, Nigiri-za in downtown Hiroshima has the sushi-making course for you. Not only will they teach you the basics of nigiri-zushi, maki-zushi, and gunkan-zushi, they’ll do it in style in this reservation-only sushi-making experience taught entirely in English by a cheerful and helpful instructor.

To say Nigiri-za isn’t your usual sushi place is an understatement. From the outside, it looks like a kabuki theater, with paper lanterns and long plaques with the names of different fish written on them like the names of star actors. It’s definitely different from any other restaurant on the block with a flair for the dramatic.

The inside is more natural, a bright space with warm wood tables and antique mismatched chairs with personality at the table seats and comfortable cushions along the booths. Light fluttering koto music plays in the background.

Students don colorful happi jackets and festival-favorite hachimaki headbands before the lesson begins with a brief explanation of sushi in general, as well as which ingredients will be used in the sushi-making experience, from maguro tuna and shrimp to Hiroshima specialty anago (conger eel) and more, Nigiri-za provides a lineup that showcases everyone’s sushi favorites.

Starting with the simple cucumber roll and working up to the more advanced nigiri-zushi, the staff at Nigiri-za are with you every step of the way with easy to understand instructions and, of course, the magic words nigi-nigi, gyū-gyū! Curious as to what that means? Well, you’ll just have to take the course and find out.

The world of sushi-making can seem pretty daunting, the image of the master chef who trained for years just perfecting the way to prepare rice solidly ingrained in the minds of anyone who’s ever watched a show about Japanese cuisine. But Nigiri-za makes sushi-making a fun and casual affair, more like baking chocolate chip cookies with your friends than lectures from a stern chef.

Beginners will feel right at home, and more sushi-literate students will pick up new tips and tricks. You’ll also learn fun tidbits about sushi and the accoutrements that go along with it and how to talk sushi like a pro with words like gari, sabi, and agari. As a full-time sushi restaurant, Nigiri-za also has access to fresh ingredients from buttery sea bream (tai) to glittering salmon roe (ikura) and everything in-between.

Practice makes perfect, and with 8 chances (9 counting the maki-zushi) to practice your sushi-making technique under the expert tutelage of the instructor, you’ll leave feeling confident enough to tackle making sushi in the comfort of your own home.

And if making sushi wasn’t enough, after you’re done, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor with a steaming bowl of heartwarming miso soup and their house chawan-mushi, a savory steamed egg custard made with a flavorful fish stock and filled with pieces of delicate white fish, kamaboko fishcake, and topped with two slivers of yuzu peels that give it a zesty hint of citrus.

Classes are held in two sessions (starting at 10 am and 4 pm, and reservations should be made at least 2 days in advance (max capacity of 20). Check out their website for their full range of lunch and dinner menu options, including local sake, vegetarian sushi, and the incredible sashimi tower, and give them a like on Facebook and Instagram!

Nigiri-za

Opening hours: 11:00-22:00
Closed: Tuesdays

Address: Nakashima-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi
Tel: 082-207-0885

Hiroshima Food Snob

Freelance writer, translator, local TV talent, and full-time food snob in Hiroshima

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