Three Noodle Workshops - January 2017

Posted on January 10, 2017 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (546)

Happy New Year!

I hope your New Year is going well!

This year I will continue to teach a variety of classic and modern Japanese cooking but hope to add a new dimension.  My goal is to incorporate "Japanese composition" lessons to my feature cooking classes. It's sounds like a language class. In a way it is. I would like to show you how to build a Japanese menu at home via the concept of Ichiju Sansai, one bowl, one dish, grains and pickles.  If I didn't tell you it's classic, you would think it's modern and Californian, because I emphasize fresh, seasonal ingredients and simplicity. One bowl of soup, one vegetable, meat or fish dish, a grain dish and some pickles to aid digestion.  So wheather you make noodles with me, or miso or tofu or pickles, we will sit down to a meal at the end that reflects this concept, so you can add it to your vocabulary of Japanese cooking. 

I will be teaching for the first time at King Arthur Flour's new school at WSU in Mt. Vernon, Washington from January 21-22.  

I am offering the following three workshops in Los Angeles (Highland Park)  this month:

Sunday, January 15  11-130pm  UDON   $125

Saturday, January 28  11-130pm SOBA   $125

Sunday, January 29  11-2pm  Ramen   $125

If you would like to sign up, please e-mail me at [email protected] and I will send you a PAYPAL registration form.

All three workshops are community style. Everyone pitches in to help. You will make the noodles and soup from scratch. We will sit down for a simple meal. You will  also have extras to take home, so bring containers for your soup and noodles. 

Thank you for all your support.



Posted on December 2, 2016 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (11)

Lucky Peach  Story by Sonoko Sakai   Art by Vinnie Neuberg

As some of you may know, Sakai and I have a small ranch in Tehachapi, which is in the high desert northeast of Mojave. We’ve had this place for almost four years now. After spending Thanksgiving day at our friends’ house in Venice, we drove up here for the weekend. Winter came early to Tehachapi this year. By the first evening, temperatures fell to the low 30s and the rain turned to snow. No matter how cold, winter is my favorite time of the year. I like to do a major year end cleaning, so I don’t carry any old dust into the New Year. It is also the time of the year that I get superstitious with food. Japanese people prepare special foods that are supposed to bring good luck and good health in the New Year and eat them during New Years Eve and throughout the first week of the New Year.

I am excited to tell you that In addition to my core winter workshops in miso, sushi and noodle making, I am going to teach how to make Japanese Good Luck dishes that can be easily prepared at home. You can serve Good Luck dishes as nibbles or as part of the main course at your New Years Eve or New Years Day party; or you can enjoy them throughout the winter season. I am also offering a Good Luck Holiday Special Certificate for $110, which you can use toward any of the following workshops, so long as you sign up before Sunday, December 8, 2016; you can also use this certificate for any future workshops I host in 2017.

I hope you join me or invite your family and friends to come to one of my workshops.  Finally, I want to thank you for all your support in 2016. Good luck and Good health to you and your family in the New Year! Sonoko Author of RICE CRAFT(Chronicle Books) Best Book of the Month of July 2016 by Amazon.

Sonoko’s December 2016 Workshops  

Miso Making and Ozoni, New Years Good Luck Mochi Soup

Saturday, December 10

Hours: 10-130pm

This is a hands-on miso making workshop. I will show you how to make miso from scratch. We will cook and mash the grains and inoculate the paste with koji - fermented rice. We will use non-GMO soybeans and rice as a base for making the miso, which will undergo a slow fermentation process of six months to a year to reach maturity. We will make a a hearty good luck soup Ozoni, made with homemade mochi rice cakes, chicken, greens, and a rich dashi stock; also Grilled Ongiri, with miso, using rice grown by my friend farmer Koda Farms. You will each take a pint of miso to complete the fermentation at home. Fee: $135. To register e-mail me at [email protected]

Freshly Milled Soba Noodles Workshop and Good Luck Tempura

Sunday, December 11 

Hours 10:00-130PM

Hours: 10-130pm Soba noodles are traditionally eaten at New Year’s Eve, because soba represents a lean and long life. Even if you are a ramen lover, switch to soba for a day. You will feel better. This is a hands-on noodle making workshop. We will use a blend of home milled groats and premium grade Japanese buckwheat, and Sonora wheat flours grown by my farmer friends of the Tehachapi Grain Project. We will make noodles in a hot soup and a batterless vegetable tempura, using root vegetables like burdock and carrots to bring you a sense of balance and stability in the New Year. Fee: $125 To register e-mail me at [email protected]

Easy Sushi for Beginners and Good Luck Mochi Soup Session one:

Saturday, December 17

Hours: 10-130pm

We will make easy seafood and vegetable sushi, using mari zushi (ball shaped sushi) and maki zushi (rolled sushi, using rice grown by my farmer friend Koda Farms. You will get a lesson on filleting the fish and seasoning the rice to make sushi as well as preparing the vegetable toppings. See my story in Lucky Peach to get more details about the class. http:// I will also show you how to make the dashi rich New Year’s soup of toasted mochi, shrimp, greens and yuzu to bring you good luck in the New Year. Fee: $135 To register e-mail me at [email protected]

Handmade Ramen noodles workshop and Good Luck Pickles

Wednesday, December 28

Hours 10-130pm

Those of you who love ramen should try making it at home. You will taste the difference, especially the noodles. In this workshop, we will be cranking out noodles made with a blend of rye, sonora and red fife wheat grown by my friends of the Tehachapi Grain Project. I will show you how to make ramen with chicken and pork bones cooked slowly for more than six hours. Yakibuta -braised Pork Belly and Marinated eggs will be served on top of the noodles. For good luck, we will make Namasu, carrot and daikon radish salad that represents the purity and fire in our life. Fee: $135 To register e-mail me at [email protected]


Posted on July 22, 2016 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (5)

August BAY AREA Book Promotion and Workshops

August 5 JCCNC (Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California)
Seafood flavors cooking classes. Seafood Onigiris will be featured. 6-9pm 

August 6 Omnivore Books Book signing and onigiri tasting 4-5pm
August 7 SHED Healdsburg 10am -1230 Rice Craft-Adventures in Onigiri
August 8 SF Cooking School Bento and Onigiri 630-930pm  

Sonoko Sakai July 2016 Newsletter

Posted on June 26, 2016 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (9)

Summer greetings!


I am very excited to tell you that RICE CRAFT will be out this month! July 20!!!. This is my second cookbook about rice balls - onigiri, omusubi, sushi - call it what you wish. It’s a fun cookbook for everyone. RICE CRAFT is already on the best seller list of new cookbooks coming out of Chronicle Books this Fall. You can preorder this book from


Here are the upcoming workshops in July:


July 8 6-9pm Storrier Sterns Japanese Garden - Japanese Supper Club, Pasadena         Soba Noodles Night - I will be making a special three course meal, featuring soba.

I will be doing a demonstration of how to make soba by hand. $65 To register, please visit



July 13 730pm -9pm Skirball Cultural Center - The World Of Dumplings    Through cooking demonstrations and tastings, learn about the history and practice of dumpling making in Italy, India, and Japan. Find out what makes a dumpling and why they are so ubiquitous in diverse food cultures around the globe. I will be talking and making Japanese gyoza dumplings. Free workshop For details visit


July 16 11-2pm Soba Noodles Workshop - Highland Park                                                                  This is a hands on beginners soba workshop. We will cover everything from how to source the flour, blending flours, making noodles and sauces. We will do tastings of hot soba in a broth with protein and vegetables and a cold soba salad with market fresh vegetables. You will take home 3 servings. $95. To register E-mail [email protected]


July 17 11-2pm Udon Noodles Workshop -Highland Park                                                          This is hands on udon noodle workshop. We will cover everything from how to source the flour, blending flours, making noodles and sauces. We will do tastings of hot udon in a broth with protein and vegetables and a cold udon. You will take home 3 servings. $95. To register E-mail [email protected]


July 22-25 630-930pm Udon Noodles Workshop PCC -Seattle      All four workshops are SOLD OUT!


July 28-30 Grain Gathering Event at The Bread Lab/WSU Mt. Vernon, WA                                      Tofu & Haiku Workshop - I will be a guest instructor teaching tofu and haiku. 

July 31 T-Project RICE CRAFT Onigiri Workshop - Portland Oregon


Time: TBA



I am looking forward to doing my first RICE CRAFT workshop in Oregon at T Project - a beautiful tea shop in Portland, Oregon owned my friend Teri Gelber. Details to come.


I hope to see you soon.


Best wishes,


Sonoko Sakai






May Newsletter

Posted on May 17, 2016 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (9)


Hi Everyone,

I just got back from Vermont where I was invited to teach soba and udon noodles at King Arthur Flour Education Center. People joined me from all over New England- Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and also Virginia. We served the noodles with tender wild ramps picked from the nearby fields, as well as fiddlehead ferns and sweet asparagus. What better way to signal the arrival of spring!



My cookbook RICE CRAFT will be published on July 20. Pre-order from Amazon.

This is a book that will teach how to make rice balls, sushi, and whimsical onigiri to eat as snacks and to put in your bento box. Rice Craft is already one of Chronicle Books best selling cookbooks!



Fresh-Soba-to-Go at COOKBOOK


Cookbook in Echo Park will commence the annual Summer Fresh-Soba-to-Go on Fridays, starting June 3. Available after 1pm until we sell out. So reserve by phone! These are my hand-cut soba noodles with dipping sauce and fresh herbs. They only takes 90 seconds to cook so it’s the best way to enjoy a fresh slurp.




Kimchi Workshop and Lunch - San Francisco

Saturday, May 21 10-1pm

Where: Japanese Community Center of Northern California


Description: Learn how to make two types of kimchi including the classic whole cabbage kimchi, daikon kimchi, and delicious citrus “water” kimchi. You will learn to prep, taste, and understand the fermentation time. Your class will be followed by a delicious lunch of Korean rice bowl and chilled fruit dessert. Fee:$70 JCCCNC members $90 Non-members. To register, please go to





Community Umeboshi Pickle Workshop and Lunch - Oakland

Sunday, May 22 10-1pm

Where: Pollinate Farms and Gardens(Oakland)

Description:We have 40 lbs of freshly harvested ume which we

were able to source locally. Umeboshi is made with unripe ume - a stone fruit that belongs in the plum family. It is a pickle that has

been enjoyed in Japan for centuries as a medicinal (digestive) food as well as a condiment. I will show you how to prep the ume for

pickling and the various stages of fermentation.

What to bring: 2 quart jars

Lunch will include miso soup, rice balls and salad.

Fee: $50 To register please go to



Soba Noodles Workshop

Saturday, May 28, 11-2pm


Where: Highland Park

This is a hands on soba noodle making workshop, using authentic Japanese tools. You will learn how to make the noodles, dipping sauce and soup. This workshop will also help you incorporate the Japanese pantry items like soy sauce, mirin, miso, sake, dashi stock into your everyday cooking. We will have a lunch of Duck soba with ginger and citrus and a summer soba salad.

Desserts will be fresh fruit with agar jelly. Fee: $100

To register: email [email protected] to reserve a spot. To register, e mail [email protected]





POKETO - Soba Workshop April 16, 2016

Posted on April 14, 2016 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (11)

I am looking forward to the soba workshop this Saturday ,April 16 from 2-5pm. It's offered by Poketo, the coolest design shop in Los Angeles. Owers, Ted and Angie, have been so enthusiastic about putting this together. We started planning it months ahead of time. It's their first food event at Poketo. I hope the flour binds and the soba taste good. Here is the link to their website.   The event is SOLD OUT! 


April 2016 Workshop - Visit Events/Workshops

Posted on April 4, 2016 at 4:55 AM Comments comments (20)

Cherry Season is here!  Click to Event/Workshop for April 2016 workshops!  I will be teaching Tofu, Soba and Udon Noodles.

Skirball Center - Dumpling Workshop

Posted on March 9, 2016 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (10)

Dumpling workshop is coming up at Skirball Center.   I am teaching Japanese dumplings - my favorite, which is gyoza. Here are the details. 

POKETO - Soba Workshop April 16 2-5

Posted on March 7, 2016 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (12)

This has been another busy year teaching soba.  I am going to be teaching at POKETO's studio in Koreatown. Such a creative space! To register visit Poketo's website.


The Pantry - Tofu Workshop - Seattle

Posted on February 27, 2016 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Just got back from the Bay Area teaching tofu and nabe workshops.  I had a few days to breathe in Tehachapi, play with my dog Ana and do laundry.  Now I am headed to Seattle where I will be teaching tofu at" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> the Pantry in Ballard.  I am looking forward to teaching in the new kitchen. I also get to hang out with my son Sakae and my daughter-in-law, Binah in Seattle. All three workshops are sold out!

Ricecraft -Onigiri Coobook

Posted on February 25, 2016 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)

My new cookbook RICECRAFT will be out from Chronicle Books on August 2, 2016. 

You can pre-order on-line through Amazon.


Standard Dtwn Soba Pop up/ Workshop Jan 13, 2016

Posted on January 22, 2016 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Tofu Workshop February 6, 2016

Posted on January 15, 2016 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (1)

If you haven't tasted fresh tofu, you got to do it at least once.  You will realize that what you have been eating all this time, the commercial stuff that is, doesn't have any flavor at all.  Fresh tofu is made and eaten on the same to enjoy its full flavor.

Join me on February 6 from 10-130p and 3-6pm in Highland Park. E-mail me to register - [email protected]

Community Soba Workshop January 3 - two sessions

Posted on January 1, 2016 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)
I am offering a community workshop in Highland Park.

Session 1:   10-1130am   
Sesssion 2:  1-230pm   

You will make 3 servings of soba by hand and we will do tastings of soba in a hot broth.
Vegetarians are welcome.


SQIRL Los Angeles - Soba Noodles

Posted on December 28, 2015 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Hello Friends!


I will be making SOBA NOODLES to usher in the New Years.


"The tradition of slurping soba noodles at year end is to put the hardship of the year behind you. The belief being that the soba noodles are easily cut while eating; easing us into the New Year."


Come for a knead or a slurp!

To register visit



Kids only Onigiri Workshop, January 30 2015

Posted on December 22, 2015 at 1:25 AM Comments comments (1)
Onigiri workshop for kids - the first workshop in Pasadena will be Onigiri making for kids. I will be at Urbank Kitchen on January 30 from 3-5pm.  To sign up visit

Soba Yoga - A workout and cooking class in one

Posted on June 9, 2015 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I used to not like eating soba salads - soba in combination with vegetables tossed in an oily salad dressing. The idea of the noodles getting mushy was what turned me off. But I have managed to solve that problem by tossing the salad separately from the oily dressing.  The vegetables get their coat of dressing but not the soba, until you mix up the whole thing together- which can wait till last minute.  The noodles get a quick dip in a  soy bonito broth. This gives the noodles some flavor.  My soba salad is a two step process, and maybe not for everyone but I like serving soba salads this way.   You can use any combination of vegetables and salad dressing with soba. These noodles are pretty adaptable. 

I am offering a soba yoga community class this coming Saturday, June 13 from 10-11:30am. It's very short for a cooking class but just enough to finish a batch of noodles by hand and get a little work out kneading.  I consider making soba, yoga so if you want to explore this idea, join me. To register, e mail me at [email protected]


Onigiri Workshop for Children

Posted on February 12, 2015 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Join me for a hands on Childrens Onigiri Workshop in Highland Park on February 28 from 11-2pm. $25 to participate.

For details, contact me at [email protected]  

SHED Rice Workshop, featuring Onigiri

Posted on January 26, 2015 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)


Workshop from 11am - 2pm on 2/6 $95


In the United States rice is often served as a side dish, but in Japan, rice is the centerpiece of a satisfying meal. Rice is nourishing, delicious, versatile and gluten-free. Join Sonoko Sakai, Japanese food writer and teacher, and Robin Koda, proprietor of Koda Farms, the oldest rice farm in California, as they share their knowledge and passion for rice.

Sonoko will teach a variety of classic and modern Japanese rice dishes using brown, white rice, mixed grains, and legumes while Robin will share her expertise on growing and cooking rice. Participants will learn how to make plain and sushi-style Onigiri rice balls, winter soup with Kabocha and scallion miso and Nuka pickles. For dessert students will make shiratama mochi balls with sweet azuki bean paste. After the hands-on lesson, we will sit down for a communal meal of all the things we’ve learned to prepare.


Students will take home Nuka base and complete the fermentation at home. Please bring a cutting board, kitchen knife, a plastic or glass container (3 cup size) with a lid, and an apron.


Sonoko Sakai is the founder of Common Grains, a project dedicated to providing a deeper understanding and appreciation for Japanese food and culture. She is currently working on a rice themed cookbook titled Ricecraft (to be published by Chronicle Books in Spring 2015).


Robin Koda is a third generation Japanese-Californian rice grower who, along with her brother, farms, mills, and packages heirloom rice on their homestead in the San Joaquin Valley. Koda Farms is the oldest family owned and operated rice farm and mill in California. It was Robin’s love of the cycles of rice cultivation that brought her back to the ranch after earning an MFA from the School of the Chicago Art Institute.


All workshop participants will receive 10% off in SHED’s retail store and cafe the day of the workshop, perfect for stocking up on cooking supplies to make Japanese food at home.


Gluten Free Soba Workshop

Posted on May 26, 2014 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

I have a dedicated soba room in our house - our second bedroom.  But for this gluten free soba workshop, I wanted to do it in a larger space, so I moved the workshop to the living room and dining room.   I asked Sakai to make me a second large table to accomodate the number students that signed up for this class.  The arrangement worked really well.  We had good light, plenty of space, and we got to stay together as a group.  This was a gluten free class but it turns out that everyone was gluten tolerant and most of them just wanted to make 100% buckwheat noodles.  I used fava beans soy sauce to make the dipping sauce.  It tasted fine.  We tasted two sobas:  the classic zaru soba and a leek and mushroom soba in a hot broth. I made koji pickles with market carrots, radishes and cucumbers, an egg omelete and for dessert, an plum and apricot agar jelly with tanba black beans.  Everyone enjoyed the workshop.
By 7pm, I was out of the house, driving to Tehachapi.