A few weeks ago as I was debating whether or not to book a vacation or set money aside for a rainy day, a friend said to me, “Life is about experiences. When you think back, do you remember the material things you purchased or do you have memories from visiting different cities and trying new things?” Needless to say this was the justification I was looking for to pull the trigger on booking our vacation. But afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said.
I’m constantly looking for new and exciting things to do. I’ve lived in San Francisco my entire life, but am continually amazed at how much I don’t know about this city; with new restaurants sprouting up, the gentrification of old neighborhoods and constantly evolving fads (hello, cronut!), there’s never a shortage of things to do, explore and taste. And thanks to social media I recently discovered Verlocal, “A social platform that connects and empowers people through local experiences.”
Through Verlocal, you can sign-up for a variety of classes taught by local experts (ranging from cooking to crafts to indoor and outdoor activities). Classes are currently offered in the following major metropolitan cities: San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Chicago. What better way to learn a new craft than from someone in your own community?
After viewing the listings for San Francisco, I knew immediately that I wanted to enroll in the “Become a Japanese Chef – Homemade Ramen & Gyoza” class taught by a former owner (named Mari) of the first Izakaya (Japanese tapas) restaurant here in the city. Although ramen is not a new cuisine, in fact we learned from Mari that it’s been around since the 1700s, it’s become a fad again in the recent years with new ramen shops sprouting up everywhere. It takes more than just a pot of soup and noodles to make a truly good bowl of ramen, and I wanted to find out the secret!
Unfortunately I won’t spill the beans, you’ll have to take Mari’s ramen & gyoza class to find out for yourself, but instead I’ll share some photos from my experience…
There are many different types of ramen and flavors, based on the different regions in Japan. We also learned how to properly pronounce the pork-based ramen, called “tonkotsu,” which is often mistakenly pronounced “tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet).”
We learned there is a specific way to pinch the gyoza skin together so that it looks appetizing and cooks evenly on the bottom; this was much harder than it sounds, believe me!
Ta Da! The final product; a perfect bowl of tonkotsu ramen, made by yours truly. It looks exactly like an order you’d get at any of the famous Bay Area ramen joints: Ramen Dojo, Orenchi or Santa Ramen, wouldn’t you say?
Thank you Mari and Verlocal for introducing me to this amazing experience! If you are looking for something new to try, take a look at the class listings in your area. Or if you are planning a trip to another city this would be a great way to learn about the community and culture, first hand, from the locals themselves.
Also, if you refer a friend, both of you will receive $10 off a class of your choice!