If you’ve heard of a donabe—a Japanese clay cooking pot that resembles a lidded casserole—that’s probably thanks in part to Naoko Takei Moore, aka Mrs. Donabe, who’s been importing the pots from Japan for more than a decade.
In 2007, Takei Moore got her first taste of rice cooked in a Kamado-san—a classic rice donabe—and has never looked back. Born in Tokyo but based in Los Angeles, the food and wine enthusiast began selling donabe in the United States in 2008. To spread the art, Takei Moore taught donabe cooking classes for several years, and in 2015, she published the cookbook Donabe: Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking.
The next phase of Takei Moore’s donabe venture comes as no surprise: In October 2017, she opened Toiro, a brick-and-mortar shop selling donabe alongside Japanese food imports and other Japanese kitchen tools and tableware you won’t find anywhere else. Let’s pay a visit.
Photography courtesy of Toiro.
Toiro’s donabe are made in the Iga-yaki style of ceramics, said to have originated in Iga, Japan, in the seventh century. They are made by ceramists Nagatani-en, who have been making pottery since 1832. Each donabe is made by hand and takes about two weeks to complete.
The word toiro means “10 colors” in Japanese, a reference to the sheer variety of donabe that Toiro offers.
In addition to her donabe cookbook, Takei Moore offers Recipes for donabe rice dishes, quinoa, stews, and more on the Toiro website.
Takei Moore supplies donabe to high-end restaurants across the country, including Single Thread Farms in Sonoma County, California, State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, and Otium in LA.
Find more tips on kitchens and kitchen tools in our Kitchens 101 guide, including features on Small Kitchen Appliances, Kitchen Cabinets & Hardware, and Kitchen Storage & Organization. For more Japanese design inspiration, see:
- Kitchen of the Week: A Custom Culinary Workspace by a Japanese Atelier
- Trend Alert: Kintsugi, The Art of the Mended Vessel
- A Long Winter’s Nap: An Innovative New Bedding Line from Japan