Meet our Kyoto Chef, Aya!


We are thrilled to feature Aya Igano, one of the founders and chefs of Eat Kyoto for our Fall TROVE Box: Journey to Kyoto, Japan! I had an opportunity to get to know Aya more and hear about how she founded Eat Kyoto, what she loves about teaching, and the impact COVID has had on her business.

How long have you lived in Kyoto? What do you love about?

I was born in Osaka which is next to Kyoto and moved to Kyoto about 8 years ago. I just love Kyoto because you can meet people from all over the world every day of the week. Sadly, not now though…

Kyoto also has a very high level of cuisine and is actually known as the second most Michelin-Starred city in the world!

What first drew you to cooking?

Growing up, I worked as a waitress at a Yakitori restaurant, which serves lots of delicious, skewered meats. It was a small, family run business, so I learned to do many different things, including preparing and cooking food in the kitchen. That is where I really started to develop my cooking skills and techniques. I loved it and cooking has been a big part of my life ever since!

How did you get your start in teaching a cooking class? 

My friend started a cooking school called Eat Osaka in Osaka, Japan, which taught Udon, Yakitori and Okonomiyaki (a savory Japanese pancake) to tourists. She asked if I could help and I was only supposed to teach a few classes. However, it was so much fun that I ended up staying for 7 years.

During my time there, ramen became quite popular outside of Japan, and many visitors began asking me how to make it. I decided to go to ramen school, and learn the way of ramen properly. Afterwards, I started Eat Kyoto in Kyoto, Japan, and have been teaching ramen making for the last 2 years. I love trying new recipes and techniques, sharing the Japanese culture with others, and bringing fun into cooking.

Cucumber - snake belly cut, Kyoto Virtual Cooking Class

What do enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy travelling and meeting people from around the world. I love that in my classes I get to talk to people from so many different places and teach them a little something about Kyoto they can bring back home.

How would you describe your cooking style? 

I would say my cooking style is easy and tasty! When you take my class, my goal is to teach you things you can easily recreate at home and enjoy with friends & family. That’s why I’m excited to partner with TROVE to be able to bring some of my cooking tips via the live classes.

What do you love most about the local Kyoto cuisine?

Ramen, of course! But I also like dishes made from Yuba (skin of gently boiled soybean milk).

How has the pandemic impacted you personally? Your business?

My husband owns a bicycle downstairs, and my cooking school is right above that. Sadly, we’ve had to temporarily close our shop and cooking classes since March. We typically had 2-8 people per class for lunch and dinner every day. I’ve been working at my husband’s shop since the cooking school is currently closed, and we are thinking of how we could use the cooking school space for something new until travel opens up again.

What are some of your favorite dishes to make? 

My favorite would be Nikujaga (a meat and vegetable stew with sweetened soy sauce). It’s a typical Japanese home-cooked dish.

I had such a fun time chatting with Aya! Aya will bring a taste of Kyoto to our homes in our virtual cooking class. This makes for the perfect date night or a fun way to do a virtual gathering with friends or family while learning something new together.

In this online experience, Aya will be showing you how to make 3 dishes using very unique techniques: Cucumber Salad (with a special “snake belly” cut using chopsticks), Miso Udon with handmade noodles (using your feet!), and Ginger Chicken.

Kyoto Japan online cooking class

We are offering 2 LIVE online classes for you to choose from:

  • Saturday, November 21, 2020 – 5:00 – 6:30 pm PST
  • Saturday, December 5, 2020 – 5:00 – 6:30 pm PST

Don’t worry though! If you are unable to attend a class live, we will be posting the recorded versions so you can watch on your own schedule.

Order your Fall TROVE Box today to get your special ingredients that you’ll cook with, printed recipe cards, and a shopping list for fresh ingredients. You won’t want to miss chef Aya.

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