Seattle-based Sound Excursions is now offering monthly two-hour sushi making classes with sake tasting at Fremont's Chiso Sushi, taught by the restaurant's chef, Hirohiko Kirita. $79 gets you a drink of your choice (alcoholic or non-) when you arrive, instruction on five different sushi rolls, an explanation and tasting of three different sakes, a full pour of your favorite sake, a take-home sushi-making guide, and a team challenge at the end of the class with prize.
Is $79 a bit steep? Perhaps, but when you factor in the new skills, the three sake tastes and explanations, the full sake pour and other beverage of your choice, and the fact that you probably can't eat all the sushi you make during the class (I didn't come close), and thus are taking home a meal for later, the landscape looks brighter. Plus, there is the teacher.
To me, what really distinguishes the class is Kirita, who is at gentle ease with a crowd, and a strong (and clearly experienced) instructor. Kirita says he's been making sushi for a decade, and he demonstrated and explained the importance of soaking and prepping the rice correctly—including adding the vinegar to the cooked rice immediately and breaking up clumps so it absorbs throughout. He discussed the sweet spot between "glistening" hands that are wet enough to handle the rice and those that are too wet (each station was equipped with a bowl of water and small towel).
Finally, the chef walked the class through five different rolls—a tuna roll, cucumber roll, California roll, and more—and three sakes, including an unfiltered variety and Japan's top-selling brand. All the while, he lightly observed that we got a bit harder to reign in as the class, and sake pours, went on, but did his best anyway.
There are obviously myriad ways to make sushi, and connoisseurs can certainly get more creative with what they roll inside, but this was a solid—and festive—beginner's course with some good basic takeaway habits. Learn more and make reservations here.