The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House
舞妓さんちのまかないさん A series on Netflix about Food & Friendship set in a Maiko house in Kyoto.
Photo Credit: The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, 2023. Netflix
From acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda
Adapted from the manga series “Kiyo in Kyoto”by Aiko Koyama,
season 1 episode 9
Part 1 Tamago Sando たまごサンド
A year has passed since Kiyo & Sumire arrived to the Maiko House and Sumire prepares to be officiated as a Maiko which is is called MISEDASHI (見世出). The first time Sumire wears the black formal kimono and tortoiseshell hair ornament.
Kiyo prepares her most important meal yet, tiny bite sized sandwiches that Sumire had requested Kiyo to make for her when she became a Maiko. The tiny sandwiches can be eaten in one bite so as not to disturb the maiko makeup. As Sumire eats the sandwiches you can tell that she has been waiting for the time she could finally have them.
Maiko Vegan Tamago Sando たまごサンド:
A rich, creamy sandwich normally made with egg, kewpie mayonnaise and fluffy soft shokupan bread.
Both the bread and filling are not vegan. However I do have a recipe on my recipe pages for vegan shokupan if you would like to try it although you can just use regular white fluffy thick sliced bread if you prefer.
The filling is simple to make with just tofu, vegan kewpie mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, turmeric, nutritional yeast and kala namak (fine black salt).
You will need:
150g of medium firm tofu
150g of silken tofu
Drain the tofu and wrap in a paper towel to absorb moisture for about 1 hour. Be careful with the delicate silken tofu. Then add both to a bowl.
Add to the bowl
1/2 a teaspoon of kala namak salt, this is what will give you your egg flavour. If you buy the kind that comes in large crystals you will need to grind it down into a powder other than that you can buy it already in powder form.
Add also 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 tablespoons of vegan kewpie mayonnaise (this used to be difficult to get outside of Japan but now places like natural natural in London sell it. If you are somewhere else try requesting it from your local Asian grocery store or just use ordinary vegan mayonnaise adding 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of brown rice vinegar.
Mash up the ingredients with a fork leaving a few white chunks so it looks more like an egg texture.
Chill in the fridge for a few hours if possible.
You will notice the mixture has now turned a nice yellow.
Next take your bread slices. First you will need to cut off all the crusts, put these to one side in a zip lock bag or container to keep them fresh. (You will be using these for a tea time treat later)
Using vegan butter or margarine and spread the slices on one side.Then add your egg mixture closing the sandwich with another slice of buttered bread ( you know how to make a sandwich right ! )
Cut the sandwich into small bite sized squares. Perfect for an afternoon teatime.
Kiyo by now has obviously found her purpose in life, when speaking to Tsurukoma one of the characters she has a conversation with her about how she has found her passion in cooking. Tsurukoma realises that being a maiko is not her passion and tells Mother Azusa that she has decided to leave. Kiyo and the rest of the girls make her nabekko dumplings in red bean soup to say farewell. You may recall right back in episode 1 Kiyo’s grandmother makes this as a good luck meal before Kiyo and Sumire leave on their journey from Aomori to Kyoto. You can find my recipe for nabekko dumplings on my first The Makanai blog post.
Part 2: Crust Rusks パンの耳ラスク
We see Kiyo deep frying in hot oil the crusts that she had cut off from the bread to make the tamago sando and then rolling them in sugar.
That evening Sumire makes her official Maiko debut. On her return Kiyo is waiting with a treat of crispy hot sugar coated crust rusks.
Remember the crusts you put aside? Now is the time to use them. Normally the crust rusks are coated in butter and baked, so I decided to sauté them in some melted vegan butter until nice and coated
then lay them out on a baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven until dry and crispy.
Then remove and roll them in sugar. Eat them while warm.
Until I made these I wondered what all the fuss was about making baked left over crusts as a treat for someone on such a special day but oh my goodness are they delicious! It wasn’t what I expected at all. Of course they are not the healthiest snack but a real treat indeed.
Some spots to look out for from the series when your next in Kyoto.
I briefly mentioned this in episode 8 talking about the Sanjo-Ohashi bridge (三条大橋) which we often see Kiyo walking merrily over to and from buying provisions. The bridge is famous for giboshi (擬宝珠) its onion shaped posts and rails made of wood spanning the Kamo river.
It is unclear when this bridge was first built, but there are records of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Chief Advisor to the Emperor) orders for it to be repaired in 1590. The current concrete bridge, which includes two lanes for driving and a walking path on either side, was built in 1950. As mentioned in my last post it has one of my favourite Starbucks at the end of the bridge with views over the river. Perfect for relaxing with a coffee.
The Kamo-Gawa river (鴨川) is a popular destination and is perfect for a leisurely stroll.
In episode 7 we see the girls on a day out crossing the Kojin Tobiishi stepping stones ( 荒神飛石) this is where Kamo River begins.
The stones lie just north of the Kamo Ohashi bridge, near where the Kawaramachi and Imadegawa roads meet, close to Demachiyanagi train station. It is line of giant turtles which stretch across the waters. A fun place to hop along the river playing on the stones.
Tatsumi Daimyojin Shrine (辰巳大明神) is a quaint little shrine that sits in the Shirakawa District, on the corner of one of Kyoto’s backstreets., close to the river with the same name. It is said that in the past, the area was haunted by a tanuki who used to prank the passersby, making them fall in the river. To make him stop, the people decided to build this shrine, and the tanuki stopped behaving badly. This local shrine is often frequented by neighborhood geisha and is a perfect photo back drop.
In the same place is Tatsumi Bridge(祇園巽橋) which stretches over the Shirakawa canal, that connects to the Kamo river, and runs through the Gion district.
You can also wonder down the Shirakawa-Sui 白川筋 which Kikuno, Tsurukoma, Kotono, and Sumire walked down.This is Kyoto at its most picturesque lined with willow and Sakura trees and dining establishments
In episode 2 Kiyo, Sumire and the Maiko left for Yasaka shrine (八坂神社) also once known as the Gion Shrine. They went pray to improve their Maiko skills. The legacy of Yasaka Shrine goes back one of the most over 1350 years ago, the shrine is located between the popular Gion and Higashiyama districts. Yasaka Shrine is well known for its summer festival, the Gion Matsuri, which is celebrated every July.
In episode 6 Mother Azusa, Sumire, Tsurukoma, Kotono and Kikuno went to the Minami-za theatre (南座) to watch the Kabuki annual beginning performance. The current Minami-za theatre was built in 1929.
Despite the considerable decline in the number of geisha in Gion in the last century, the area is still famous for the preservation of forms of traditional architecture and entertainment. Part of this district has been declared a national historical preservation district. The City of Kyoto has undertaken a number of restorative projects to enhance the beauty and historical authenticity of Kyoto’s Gion Hanamachi a district where geisha live and work.
I hope my Makanai series has given you some inspiration to make some Japanese style vegan home cooked food for yourself and encouraged you to watch the series if you haven’t already done so. I also have two Kyoto walking tours recommending vegan cafes to visit along the way on my travel pages.
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