Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Dear All, 

Please note that I have now relocated all new tour information to my brand-spanking-new

If you'd like to be kept in the loop please head on over there and follow me for all tour-related stuff and that way you'll be the first to know when new tours are announced. 

Speaking of which - I've just released THREE NEW tours   - one for Autumn/Fall 2015 (November) and 2 for January 2016! Please take a look HERE!

I'll still be posting my regular blog stuff on this site so don't wander off too far ya hear! 

Jane x

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Japanese Winter Hotpot Cooking Class at Essential Ingredient Prahran

It seems a long way off I know and it is rather hot and humid right now in Australia to be thinking about such things but come July 18th 2015 you will surely be needing to warm your hearts and bellies with a little Japanese style winter comfort food?
The friendly people at The Essential Ingredient in Prahran have invited me to teach a hands-on class on Japanese winter hotpots and the like. Delicious and nutritious nabe and nimono are guaranteed to be at the centre of your winter table for years to come after you've been part of this fun and informative class.  
I'm about to head off into yet another Japanese winter so there's no doubt I'll be returning with a few new recipes tucked under my wing - might have to lock in several classes!!

Hope to see you there! Here's the link:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Turning Japanese I really think so...

This week SBS Food Online features a story I wrote for them on the rise and rise of Japanese cuisine. I spoke with many enthusiastic chefs and restaurateurs including Noma's Rene Redzepi and Peter Gilmore of Quay - wanna know what they had to say ? well take a lookie HERE!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tempura Matsu

Well I've been trying to keep this place a little under wraps for the last couple of years but discerning culinary travellers around the globe are discovering  just how special this restaurant is - so sadly I can no longer keep this greedy secret just for my Zenbu Tour Clients and friends who bribe me !!
 Despite the name it is not a tempura restaurant -although it once was and does serve great tempura as the agemono course! As younger generations of the creative Matsuno restaurant family have stepped up onto the kitchen front line and the floor both the food and service has evolved in a rather unique way. Particularly for Kyoto.
shiso ice in bamboo  - a summer speciality 
Dining here offers a somewhat rustic but wonderful Kaiseki experience with a mix of contemporary and traditional dishes on centuries old ceramics and lacquer ware. Young Matsuno san (who has done a stage at Alinea in Chicago) and his father who trained him in the traditional Japanese art of cuisine are front and centre surrounded by a couple of other great, humble chefs while lady Matsuno and her daughter run the floor with a few super sweet helpers.  All of them have a wonderful sense of humour and are most hospitable. 
I've taken a few small groups of people here , including Chef Peter Gilmore and John Fink of Quay restaurant and they were blown away - they felt it was one of the best meals they'd had in Japan and there is no doubt they will be back. The experience just cannot be replicated. It is strangely raw and real in a town that can be almost too elegant and refined to be believed at times. And too formal to be relaxed and fully enjoyed at others. 
Chef Matsuno san describing his oyster dish to Chef Peter Gilmore 
Tempura Matsu is not necessarily the place to go if you haven't experienced traditional Kaiseki and want to -but this is a place for people who love to engage with every aspect of true, down home hospitality, appreciate culinary flair and lap up quirky service. It is like eating in a friend's home and discovering their family are so cool that you want them to adopt you. 
Tuna belly
A warning to those with less adventurous palates or people who cannot bear the thought of knowing that a creature featured in their dinner may need to be quickly dispatched in front of them... To say the seafood here is fresh would be an understatement if you know what I mean....  If that sounds at all unappealing you may wish to skip a visit here - leaving the seats open to those who want to lap up every part of the Japanese culinary culture. 
Chefs and respectful food tourists - go here. And please make sure you pass on my kindest regards to the Matsuno clan.

Here's some pics from a few visits. 

October dishes summer going into autumn

January dishes - still in the Oshogatsu (New Year's) style

February 2014 dishes - moving from winter towards spring

Stone fish... 'if you touch the spikes you die.... '

If you are interested in seeing more of Kyoto with me - then take a peek at my Zenbu Tours Page.