I love Japanese food and can cook a few things myself but I’ve really missed eating at Japanese restaurants over the last couple of years. Japan Centre recently started offering DIY food kits so I decided to give them a go and see if I could recreate a restaurant experience at home with chicken katsu, cookies and sake.
Ready to Bake Cookie Dough Roll – Matcha & Sakura
I invited Nicolette round to help me make and eat these, and we had a lot of fun with it (and took some videos for a Reel I’ll share later). The ready to bake dough arrives chilled in 2 logs that look super colourful, plus there’s a short instruction sheet. All you have to do is cut the logs into 4 pieces, squash them flat with a spoon and bake for 12-14 minutes. They look really good once they’ve cooled and hardened a bit, and still very colourful. We tried them while still warm but actually preferred them once they were cold and more chewy.
The Sakura cookies have treacle and cherry blossom essence but you could only really taste a sweet caramel flavour, which gets a little bit sickly with the white chocolate. Nice for sharing but you wouldn’t want to eat a whole plate of these. The Matcha ones have a much stronger flavour that works well with the white chocolate but if you’re not a matcha fan, it can have quite a bitter aftertaste. I’d definitely recommend these as a fun activity – or even as a gift since being able to bake them straight from the freezer means there’s no rush to make them.
Chicken Katsu Curry
I cook Japanese curry quite often, but rarely go to the effort of making katsu to go with it. This Katsu Curry Kit comes with everything you need – rice, breaded chicken, curry sauce, carrot, potato, pickles and extra curry powder. The scale of the image above is skewed by a piece of the world’s largest carrot but those are full size chicken breasts so the bags of curry and rice are huge. It’s meant for 2 people but I could easily have stretched it to 4 portions with some more chicken. It’s simple enough to make – cook the rice, cut and boil the veggies, warm up the sauce, bake the chicken and add it all together. Having a rice cooker makes this much easier but they do include full instructions for stovetop.
This ended up looking really good! I added some peas for colour and swapped in some different pickles as I wasn’t keen on the included ones. It all tasted great too, and being able to add more spice to taste was a nice touch. I enjoyed this, and the leftovers, but I’m not sure I would get it again as it isn’t hugely better than making it myself with curry roux blocks. You do also need to cook it within 24 hours of delivery (only available on Fridays) and it is a bit of an effort for a Friday night!
Sake Flight For Two
Due to an order mix up, I also received a Sake Flight so we tried that too. The kit includes 3 small bottles of different types of sake so you can compare them and discover your favourite. We just had a capful of each but you could really taste the difference. We both liked the Honjozo, a light premium sake, best but the Nigori was really interesting with a milky melon-y taste. The Junmai had a very strong flavour that as a bit much, especially for me as I haven’t had any alcohol for a few years now. This would be a really nice gift for any Japan fans who enjoy a drink – the bottles are bigger than they look and once you pick a favourite, there’s full size bottles available from Japan Centre. I’m now very intrigued by all the different fruit sake.
These were all fun to make and try but the prices are a little high (£12 for the cookies and £20 for the curry) so they’re more for a special treat. Look out for regular discounts though as I was able to get 40% off! Japan Centre offer a few different DIY food & drink kits to try, with various combinations of sushi, katsu, poke, cookies and sake, along with frozen ready to bake treats – and there’s ramen & more via their Shoryu Ramen restaurant. Everything is freshly prepared with shipping available once a week in a cool box to most addresses in the UK.
And if you’d like to try them, Japan Centre are running an Instagram giveaway with 3 Bake At Home up for grabs (UK only – closes November 4th).
(While this is not officially a sponsored review and we paid with our own money, SCK is part of Japan Centre’s affiliate scheme and due to an order mix up, we were gifted the sake flight, All words, photographs and opinions are our own.)
Marceline is the co-founder and editor of Super Cute Kawaii and author of The Super Cute Book of Kawaii. She also designs cute character goods as Asking For Trouble. Having visited Japan five times, Marceline is enormously inspired by all things Japanese and especially loves bunnies, space and any kind of food object with a happy face.