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To Whet Your Appetite...

As most of my coworkers know, I love food and eating. I’m always up for taste-testing things even if I don’t know what’s in them (which, I suppose, isn’t always a good thing). On the other hand, I’m not a very adventurous cook. When reading cookbooks I’m often overwhelmed by the number of ingredients required for what looks like a simple dish. Reading cookbooks and cooking manga almost always succeed in making me hungry and increase my sense of awe for those who can cook.

While cooking occurs in many manga (especially in school-romances where girls bring homemade bento boxes for their love interests), I really enjoy manga that is all about food. It’s a completely different genre that's able to work in action, romance, drama, and competition, as well as beautiful drawings of food!

Main Course

Kitchen Princess. 1 by Miyuki KobayashiKitchen Princess
Kitchen Princess follows Najika Kazami, a girl who cooks from the heart and leaves home to attend the elite Seika Academy in Tokyo to find her Flan Prince, a boy who saved her from her dark past. Sora and Daichi Kitazawa help her find her place at Seika.

While the drawing style originally put me off due to its extreme "shojo-ness" (enormous eyes, dramatically slender figures, and boys who are prettier than the girls), the food and plot twists made me keep reading. The recipes included in the back of the book were simple and easy to follow.

Mixed Vegetables. Vol. 1 by Ayumi KomuraMixed Vegetables
Hanayu Ashitaba’s dream is to become a sushi chef, an occupation usually held by men. The daughter of a famous baker, she struggles with her father’s wish for her to inherit the shop. However, her classmate Hayato Hyuga is in a similar predicament: he’s the son of a sushi master and only wants to bake.

While this series felt slightly over-dramatic the second time round, I still loved the humor, drawing style, and expressiveness of the characters. I found myself laughing out loud at the faces the characters made. Mixed Vegetables, unfortunately, didn’t go in depth into the food they make, but the drawings were still enough to make me drool and crave sushi and cake!

Oishinbo, A La Carte. Japanese Cuisine by Tetsu KariyaOishinbo
Shiro Yamaoka is a journalist at Tozai News and is in charge of creating the Ultimate Menu. His co-worker Yuko Kurita also helps with the Menu and helps calm Yamaoka whenever they bump into his father, Yuzan Kaibara, a gourmet with rigid rules about how food should be treated. Yamaoka travels Japan looking for the best dishes to add to his Menu and often finds delicious food where it’s least expected.

With 104 Japanese books in print, it makes sense that Oishinbo a la Carte is a compilation of food themes, gathering similar storylines from the original work and grouping them in a single volume. I’ve read the majority of the volumes we own and the food descriptions never fail to make my mouth water. I love the intricacies of Japanese food, even though I would never have the patience to recreate the dishes (detailed recipes in the front!). I also enjoyed the emphasis on healthy food and making food as fresh as possible. I had a little trouble following the character relationships due to lack of chronology, but as the food steals the spotlight, it isn’t a big issue.

And If You’re Still Feeling Peckish...

Antique Bakery
Pretty boys, delicious cakes, humor, and a plot that sneaks up on you!

Neko Ramen
A cat making ramen. Need I say more?

Shonen action fighting with a gourmet twist. Look at those muscles!

Yakitate Japan
Delicious bread that you can make at home! And more puns than you can shake a rolling pin at.


Author Bio:

Jenna V. can read a manga series over and over...and over once more if it’s really good.