Moving to a foreign country is an intimidating experience, especially when you don’t speak the language. But, Malaysia’s warmth (the weather and the people!) has attracted Miwa Matsutani, a 45-year-old Japanese woman to make Kuala Lumpur her home. She lived in KL when she was working with Japan Club KL from 2003 to 2006 and returned in 2013 when she married a Muslim Malaysian man. She now offers Japanese cooking classes and hosts classes twice a month. Read on as we caught up with Miwa and why she teaches Japanese cooking classes to Malaysians.
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1. What do you like about living in Malaysia?
Malaysians are kid-friendly. They’re very warm and friendly to kids and they also give privileges to disabled, pregnant, injured and elderly people. That’s why I like to raise my son here. I also like that Malaysians are multicultural and we accept each others’ differences. It’s something that we Japanese should learn from each other.
2. When do you start offering the Japanese cooking class?
At first, I started with some of my close Malaysian friends in a small group. This was somewhere in early 2019. Then I started getting requests from others to join, so I decided to start teaching how to cook Japanese food.
5. Who usually joins the class? Is it expats or locals?
Usually, locals and mums would join the classes as we learn simple and basic Japanese dishes such as gyoza, Japanese curry, tempura and sushi.
6. Is the class beginner-friendly? Can someone who has no cooking skills join the class?
Yes, of course! We usually cook four to five dishes and I always choose simple dishes for my cooking class. There are usually six people in one class so you’ll get hands-on experience! I used to work full-time before the pandemic and I’m also a mother so my cooking method is always ‘simple and short-cut’ but still delicious. What’s important is also the presentation! I also teach how to present the food — table setting, beautiful porcelain dishes and colourful table cloth. It elevates the dining experience!
7. What do you usually teach in class? What kind of food?
It’s usually Japanese home-cooked dishes that my mum used to cook for me in Japan. It’s typical Japanese, Yoshoku (western influenced) and fusion (Chinese and Korean).
8. Where do you usually find halal/Muslim-friendly Japanese ingredients?
It is quite easy to find Japanese ingredients in KL. I usually go to Jaya Grocer, Village Grocer and Focal Marketing. They are a wholesaler of Japanese seasonings.
9. What would you tell someone who wants to join your cooking class?
I’d say “Let's enjoy cooking with me and the authentic Japanese taste by a Japanese mama!” You’ll find it easy to cook Japanese food at home and it’s cheaper than eating at a restaurant too! In my class, you’ll learn the different ways to enjoy Japanese food like miso soup where you can add your favourite vegetables, tofu and seafood as much as you can. Sometimes you can even add an egg (or two) too! Also, chawanmushi is usually served like a custard in restaurants, but actually, you can eat it like soup! In my class, you’ll learn how to cook authentic Japanese food!
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