Ikkuan is located in Seijo Gakuen, Tokyo and they serve tea-ceremony dishes. Ms. Hirata teaches students not only the cooking method but also importance of life in food.
I was working as police until I get married. When I was cooking at that time, I was not able to satisfy myself. I was looking for a good instructor and place to learn. One day, I watched one of the TV shows in the morning and found my master, Mr. Soko Saito. He was just showing how to rinse rice simply but improves its taste. I was very impressed by his technique and knocked the door of Ikkuan.
Mr. Saito was the master who valued the essence of cooking and basic of cooking. He taught his method of cooking to wide range of people every day, and I was one of the students. Days passed by, I began to feel like “I want to be helpful for Ikkuan” and I started working for serving lunch plate to customers. This is a place not only serves meals but for learning and passing down Japanese culture which we all must know. For example, we can learn putting our hands together in front of the meals and god, making green tea, so these are customs we must not forget.
I mainly learned “Cha Kaiseki” which is the tea-ceremony dishes. I worked as one of his disciples at the kitchen. Now Ikkuan and I are like a family so they call me anytime they need at the kitchen. This place is part of my life and hart. I understand cooking is a lifetime relationship. He has already passed away, but I have something new to learn every time I come to work here.
Probably it must would be the time when I was learning from my master. His demand was too difficult to understand and I had hard time seeing the picture from what he was saying. This difficulty made me who I am today and it was worth working under him.
I just want someone to be happy after eating my dish. It is not whether I am a good chef or not, but I want my customers to feel comfortable resonance after finishing my dish. Cooking is a tool to make someone happy. What you eat makes who you are.
When I was a child, I was taking a kendo lesson. I god many injuries and faced to the scenes of shedding a tear. When I was in high school, I became a captain of the kendo team to be responsible for junior fellows. Since I lived in the dormitory away from my parents, I learned my injuries and loose lifestyle is related to food I eat every day. Ever since then, I became very careful for my eating habit.
Happy feeling!! It will be great if they can feel “It was worth coming here to eat.” Eating is such a basic habit and just a slight moment of our life. But I would like to serve something memorable to emblaze their one scene. I hope I will be the one to be chosen as a chef for the special meal.
I love simmered eggplant cooked by my mother.
And I strongly remember all the ordinary dishes like simmered dish, soup stock, steamed fish cooked by my master.
I do not prepare anything special, but I cook at home every day using whatever I can find from the fridge. More than that, I am very strict about their manner at the table. We have to show appreciation to food as we take life into our mouth. We are not allowed to eat just one hand. If my children are not facing to food properly, they would have to receive a strict upbringing.
The key for maintaining a strict discipline is in mothers’ steady attitude about food. I teach my children “You have to finish what you have been served. I cooked for your health and served the right amount on your plate.” This concept might be the most important thing I want to teach mothers.
I am trying to tell the importance of food rather than technique. I just want my students to feel cooking again in their home. For example, we supported horse mackerel fillet with both hands and put on the plate. This gesture represents appreciation for life but not seeing as an ingredient. Therefore, menu is just a tool for me.
I want to keep teaching many people importance of cooking. Preparing soup stock with dried bonito and seaweed is especially important not using the instant dashi powder. Repeating the basics of cooking expand your recipe. I would like to create my own recipe more. To do that, I eat out at Japanese classic style restaurants sometimes.
My cooking style is not something special, but the method and technique are useful for your daily meals. It is very healthy so all of your family members will love it from the babies to elderlies.