Is everyone feeling like they need to pare things down these days, or is it just us? The idea of perfectly organized closets, desks, kitchens — lives — feels so liberating. And while we can’t necessarily get your lives in order for you, we can at least help with the kitchen part. Meet owner Maiko Kyogoku and Executive Chef Emily Yuen of Bessou, a Japanese restaurant in NYC serving perfectly curated, modern Japanese food in a space that’s the thing dreams are made of. So obviously, we asked them to take over our kitchens and teach us how to cut down on the extraneous, unnecessary, superfluous things in life and get back to the basics. Turns out, having a Japanese-inspired kitchen is just that: Honing in on the essential necessities and having a room that is simple, beautiful and, most importantly, functional. Here, their 7 tips on how to cut the clutter and make our kitchens usable again.
Kamenoko Tawashi Scrubbing Brush
This tawashi brush is a miracle worker. It is a vegetable brush, a cast iron pan cleaner and it can even be used as a body loofah! It sounds like it's too good to be true, but this scratch-free scourer is made of natural fibers and has been used in Japanese kitchens for over a century. Growing up, I saw the tawashi brush in our kitchen sink to scrub away tough grime, as well as in the shower where my mother would scrub herself and me in the bathtub for some serious exfoliation. (Warning: the bristles are hard, so go light on your skin!).
Suribachi Mortar and Pestle
The Suribachi is a prime example of seamlessly blending art and function. It's a gorgeous wooden pestle and dark amber colored mortar with small grooved lines to crush sesame seeds, your favorite herbs, or smashing avocados for the perfect guacamole.
Binchotan Charcoal Water Filter
I have gotten rid of all my other water filtration systems. Forget Brita! This is both eco- and wallet- friendly and it results in the cleanest tasting water you’ll ever have. It makes sense for charcoal to provide clean water since those other filtration systems use charcoal bits to filter. A little periodic maintenance will offer about 3 months of great tasting water - plus, having charcoal in your water pitcher is a beautiful presentation at dinner parties.
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Hario Electric Kettle
A couple of years ago when I was living in Brooklyn, I went through a phase of not wanting to use any gadgets or electronic tools. I refused microwaves, coffee makers — and I even bought a stovetop kettle to keep in line with my no electronic ways. For whatever reason, I ended up burning my teakettle ... not once, but twice! It was at that point that I decided to relax my position on electronically powered products. This is when I found the Hario Electric Kettle. The clean, minimal lines of the kettle and the thin spout makes for great pour overs, and the surface area of the heating disk for the kettle is small so it doesn't take up much space. You'll never need to worry about discoloring or burning your kettle pot again!
Shirayuki Fukin Multipurpose Cleaning Cloth
I keep these cleaning cloths around my kitchen for occasional spills or to grab something hot from the oven. The company makes all different kinds of cloth products with all different kinds of vibrant patterns. They add a great splash of color to any kitchen!
Hinoki Atmosphere Mist
If you live in a small NYC apartment like me, chances are that if/when you decide to cook anything at home... you run the risk of smoking up your place immediately, removing the batteries from that very sensitive smoke alarm, and your bedroom comforter will smell like whatever it is that you cooked that night for days on end. This hinoki atmosphere mist provides some relief by neutralizing any smells in the air or on my fabrics. It smells of fresh Japanese cedar wood and is great in providing a temporary sensory Zen from that sizzling steak odor!
Misono Gyotou Knife
To make great food, you need the right tools - and a great knife is probably at the top of the list of tools for any serious cook. Japanese knives are considered some of the best out there. They are beautifully handcrafted, lightweight, and exceptionally sharp. They can also sometimes be extremely pricey. This Misono is an introductory chef's knife under $100 and very easy to use. I bought it after learning that Misono is considered one of the best brands for knives - and also after I saw one of our restaurant chefs expertly wielding a very beautiful one (that also happened to be multiple times more expensive). The affordable price point and brand name for this model makes this purchase a sound one for any home cook.
about maiko + emily
Owner Maiko Kyogoku and Executive Chef Emily Yuen became friends in 2013 while honing their skills at Boulud Sud. Yuen served as Sous Chef at Boulud Sud after three years as Executive Sous Chef at DB Bistro in Singapore and stints at La Gavroche in London and Vue de Monde in Australia. Kyogoku served as Director of Private Dining for Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud. Kyogoku’s taste and love of Japanese food developed from an early age cooking with her mother and chef father. Bessou — which means holiday home in Japanese — opened its doors in New York City's NoHo neighborhood in August 2016 and features modern Japanese dishes inspired by Kyogoku’s family’s meals.