A Japanese Escape

Experience the fascinating culture of Japan in a world without travel.

In our current covid climate the world is learning to live without international travel and South Australia has responded by offering an exciting cultural journey that will, virtually, transport you across the globe. So pack your tastebuds ready for the tantalising Tokyo night markets and get ready to slip into that kimono and soak up the serenity of Hirosaki, as you prepare for the 20 minutes travel time to this Japanese Escape.

South Australia’s own ‘Little Japan’ is nestled in the outskirts of Stirling in the Adelaide Hills. The Sticky Rice Cooking School and Villas offers an exclusive Japanese Escape Package which is a combination of Japanese themed accommodation and the Essential Japanese cooking class.

The cooking class is a great place to start your virtual journey and is taught by esteemed Japanese chef, Yukiko Anschutz, who originates from Osaka and whose career includes having worked in SA’s most prestigious Japanese restaurant, Shiki.

Upon entering the cooking school kitchen, you are immediately transported to Asia. Your senses are awakened by the peppery aromas of toasted spice, the warmth of the saffron and ruby wall colour and the spiritual welcome which emanates from the Buddha statues. The smiley staff give off an aura of genuine hospitality and the buzz in the room is infectious, as anticipation starts to build before the class.

The cooking class menu is hand-crafted by Yukiko to create a cohesive cooking and dining experience that reflects both traditional and modern Japanese cuisine. Through this, many skills will be taught but rather than feeling intimidated by this challenge, Yukiko’s warm bubbly nature immediately sets you at ease. It also helps when she tells us, “this is not the MasterChef kitchen and there will be no eliminations during class!”

What really makes this experience outstanding is the chef Yuki. She is enthusiastic, cheerful and quite funny. Her passion not only for the quality of the food but also for the enjoyment of the attendees is obvious

Next on the menu we are led towards the bustling night markets of Tokyo to sample some sensational flame-grilled, teriyaki chicken. Yukiko shares how just three humble ingredients, sugar, soy sauce and sake, can be used to transform ordinary chicken into a mouthful of magic. We use barbeques to chargrill the chicken and we baste it with the marinade until it’s glazed to perfection and bursting with flavour. The beauty of this teriyaki chicken is that we now have the secret recipe to take home with us.

Yukiko is keen to move us along and next we are visiting a recipe which would be quite at home is a quaint, corner restaurant in Iwakuni or at a cultural family gathering. Beef Negimaki is finely sliced beef wrapped elegantly around snake beans and deep fried just before serving. The hero of the dish is the crispness of the green beans and a generous drizzle of a barbeque sauce which we are told is usually a family recipe that is handed down through the generations.

As we sit down to dinner amongst newly made friends, we reflect that our cooking journey may have ended but it has given us treasured memories to take home. We pack our recipes up and head towards our next exciting destination

Following the class, the next destination is the Yoko Villa, which is designed to encapsulate the tranquil essence of Hirosaki with it’s picture postcard cherry blossom gardens.

Opening the  courtyard door you are greeted by swaying bamboo, an arching Japanese maple tree and the meandering stepping stone path which beckons you to explore the private gardens. The Japanese tea house peeks out from just around another corner and your inquisitiveness is torn between directions. Inside the villa, delicate paper lanterns, flutter and glow against soft neutral wall tones and the lofty ceilings and glass walls act as a theatrical backdrop to this serene space which invites you in.

Yoko by name, translates from Japanese to ‘sunny’ or ‘bright’ and as the name suggests, warm sunshine streams into this villa from every architectural angle. Yoko’s open plan design encourages seamless movement between spaces. Giant shoji screen doors glide effortlessly between rooms and the master suite is complete with tatami mats and a lowslung king bed for that thoughtful Japanese styling. Fitted with remote control blinds and ambient lighting, this room is a romantic haven cocooning you and your partner from the outside world.

Adjacent to the master suite is the luxurious bathroom where a deep Japanese bath tub is romantically positioned in the window to soak up the magical garden views. In addition to all the mod cons you would expect from a 5 star hotel, the Yoko villa is equipped with everything you need to pamper yourselves. For a relaxing afternoon, slip into a silk kimono and enjoy the 2 person shower and indulgent underfloor heating. There’s no need to travel further than your villa if guests want to add a Japanese massage to their stay and we recommend you book the Shiatsu (finger pressure) massage which originates from traditional medicine and aims to eliminate blockages and balance your body’s energy force.

The Essential Japanese package delivers a gourmet retreat with a cultural difference. It will appeal to those loving a high energy, social cooking class with the promise of a relaxing and romantic getaway. It’s an award winning South Australian experience and is the perfect weekend away for the unfulfilled traveller or a getaway gift for that special someone.

We could not have asked for a better experience. Yuki was fun, patient and so knowledgeable. The food we made was amazing, and the experience of cooking and dining was indulgent. We then stayed the night in Villa Yoko which was incredible and very romantic

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