Thursday, 26 October 2017

Mini Ninja Sushi School at YO!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that getting children involved in the kitchen will make them more inclined to eat a variety of meals. If you have fussy eaters, fun cooking projects might help them to be more adventurous when it comes to food.
Sometimes I despair at my own family, who simply don't want to try new foods or recipes.

Many chefs (like Jamie Oliver, for example) say that if kids are involved in growing and cooking food, then they're far more likely to eat it. It doesn't always work 100%, but it's certainly worth trying and trying and trying.
Eddie's quite fussy when it comes to food. I find it exasperating that he is so stubborn. It's not that we don't expose him to a variety of foods. He just refuses to even try them.
My husband and I love sushi, and I often buy them, especially on Sundays. Until yesterday my mulish child has refused to try any of them.

When I received an invitation to a sushi-making masterclass for children at YO! (Japanese street food and sushi restaurant chain), I knew it was a great chance for Eddie to see how sushi is made, to make it under the chef's guidance and hopefully eat it.
I told him: please try, nobody is going to force you to eat anything. He was rather suspicious of my motives but agreed to take part. I think what sold the whole concept to him was the name of the class - "Mini Ninja Sushi School". Who doesn't want to be a ninja?!

YO! rolls out sushi-making classes throughout the autumn break across the country.

Yesterday morning we jumped on the bus to Oxford and arrived to YO! Oxford (George Street).
We were the first to arrive. We were greeted and taken to the working stations, where everything was prepared for the children's sushi class.

While the class was going on, the kitchen staff were busy preparing a selection of sushi.

Children are invited to prepare three different sushi recipes, under the guidance of the Ninja Master aka YO! chef.
Classes run from the 18th to 27th October on Wednesdays, for an hour from 11am, at just £15 per child.
This scheme was launched during the summer holidays, and it was so successful, the class has been relaunched to entertain and educate children during this midterm break.

Class materials + Ingredients
Mini Ninjas learn to make three varieties of sushi - cucumber maki, salmon nigiri and Californian rolls (vegetarian options are available).
Our chef - Tamas - looked the part of the master ninja in his black outfit with a headband. He is a good teacher, friendly and patient, explaining step-by-step and all secrets of creating sushi.

Children have to wear plastic gloves so everything is hygienic and clean.

It also makes it easier to handle sticky rice.

The first recipe was Cucumber Maki.

preparing cucumber maki

We learnt which side of nori (seaweed sheet) should go up. Take a big handful of sushi rice and spread it over the nori, leaving a 1cm gap on top. Sprinkle sesame seeds in the middle before putting the thin strip of cucumber on top and rolling the sushi, using the bamboo mat.
Once we had a big long sushi roll, the chef has sliced it into neat pieces.

cucumber maki
I was curious to see if Eddie would eat any of his first ever sushi. He had a cautious bite, then another, pronounced them tasty, ate two, and left the rest to take home to show his grandma and Papa.

Salmon Nigiri is an easier sushi to make, just roll the rice to make a rounded block and top up with a slice of sashimi grade salmon. If you fancy some heat, add a small blob of wasabi under salmon.
We decided to leave one sushi plain, and surprise Papa with a generous helping of wasabi. Eddie kept giggling, expecting his father to eat that hot sushi.

The last roll to master was California handroll, the trickiest of them all. It is made with sushi rice on top of a sheet of nori, with a helping of surimi crab mix, an avocado slice and sesame seeds.

You roll it into a cone shape.

After the class was over, Tamas also taught children how to eat with chopsticks, which was great fun.

Children were offered a mini game of picking soya beans with chopsticks.

They were also offered a chocolate flavoured dessert made from glutinous rice. I had a tiny bite, and it was unusual but delicious.

After completing the class, all participants receive a Mini Ninja certificate, their own paper chef's hat and a special YO! bag to take home, plus of course, the sushi which were made during the lesson.

Eddie was so happy with his class and enjoyed the taste of sushi so much, that he wanted me to buy him a sushi making kit to take home with us (at £20).

Many thanks to Tamas and Sunny for the most enjoyable hour and inspiration!

If you'd like to enroll your children in the sushi-making class, have a look at Mini Ninjas schedule for early November. Classes may very per site, and must be pre-booked online.

Disclosure: We were offered a free session in return for a review. All opinions are our own.


  1. This looks so much fun and if it got Eddie trying sushi, that's fantastic - so did Papa enjoy his wasabi-loaded sushi? That made me giggle too !

    1. It was a "nice" surprise for him. We did laugh with Eddie. :)