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Oct 25, 2006 01:57 AM

Japanese "Gurume Doramas" (gourmet TV dramas) - what others are out there?

I've been getting hooked watching the Japanese Gurume Doramas, and would like to discover more of them.

What I find so fascinating is their generally serious take on the culinary aspects of their narrative, with what appears to be a relatively close attention to accuracy and detail. The non-dramatic content seems to approach at times almost documentary levels. And as so many of these are being fan-subbed (volunteer subtitling by fans) and available on the Internet, they can reach an audience much broader than their original one.

So what "Gurume Doramas" have you seen or can identify? Which ones are your favorites? The ones on my list are just the one's that I've managed to see, and so should be easy to add on to.

* Shota no Sushi (sushi) - ingredient selection, and sushi trivia, technique, and training

* Antique (desserts)

* My Little Chef (French) - the creative side of cooking, a chef that can quickly create a unique meal for each guest

* Oishii Kankei [On Matters Delicious] (French, especially consomme)

* Oosama no Resutoran [King's Restaurant] (French) - service, operations, menu development

* Otousan [Father] (soba) - this one does not concentrate on the food, but takes place largely at a teuchi (handmade) soba shop

* Gachinko Ramen Do (ramen) - not really a Dorama, but a Japanese reality show; sort of like Hell's Kitchen on ramen

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  1. I also loved "Lunch Queen" (Lunch no Joou) - about a young woman who loves, loves, loves good food and wanders into a family restaurant run by 3 brothers and never wants to leave. Big emphasis here on omurice.

    6 Replies
    1. re: aesis

      I liked Lunch Queen as well. Sadly, I could never find a subbed version of the final 2 episodes...

      1. re: weebie

        D-addicts has them now - I think the sub group released those pretty recently.

      2. re: aesis

        "Lunch Queen" was great!! There were incredibly long pauses with the subbing, but it was still lots of fun. It made me really want to try omurice and after a long time I finally did! But I've only had it from one place... I need to find and try more! :P

        1. re: gsmoose

          gambino is the newest series of gurume dorama. comes out this week.
          its about a japanese chef making italian food

          1. re: visconti

            The name of the drama in Bambino. It's about a hotshot cook from a small Italian restaurant in Fukuoka who, during his spring break before his college graduation is asked by the owner of the restaurant to go work and learn from an old buddy who runs a big-time Italian restaurant in Tokyo. It begins with him being humiliated, and eventually learning the ropes (that's what I gather from just watching the first episode). It's a very promising food drama.

            1. re: E Eto

     bad. Gambino is the another big time italian business, i must have been watching sopranos or something

      3. this isnt a tv show but I know of two manga with a cooking theme:

        Addicted to Curry

        Jan Can cook

        2 Replies
        1. re: kare_raisu

          The whole "gurume manga" world must be quite large. Here's a list I found on the Internet on just the ones that are exclusively about, or have featured in some issues, sushi:

          Nigiri-zushi San-okunen
          Edo Sushi-ou
          Tekka-no Makihei
          Sushiya-no Kotaro
          Aji-na Ofutari

          Others are referenced in the "Gastronomica" article mentioned earlier. The manga "Jan Can Cook" reminds me of Martin Yan's show on PBS called "Yan Can Cook". I wonder if that's more than just a coincidence...

          1. re: cgfan

            As a kid, I watched Yan Can Cook. He zany humor amused me back then, and up to now (the continuous now, not the October 27th now), it's the only cooking show I'd want to watch; The original Iron Chef was alright without the dubbing. Was surprised to see Martin Yan cooking schools in Shenzhen, China...does he have them in the states too?

        2. This sound cool. Where can I get them if I live in NYC?

          4 Replies
          1. re: SwampYankee

            Most Japanese food markets will rent TV dramas, but they will rarely be subtitled, and it may be difficult to find some of these titles as they will tend to concentrate on the currently airing dramas. The best bet would be to check out eBay, where there are plenty of fansubbed versions available on both VCD and DVD. (Be prepared to get some 8-20 discs if buying in VCD format. DVD's are so much handier, as they typically fit a dorama's entire run in about 2-3 DVD's...)

            Just be prepared at times to either need VCD (Video CD) or foreign region capability on your DVD player. Playing them on a computer will generally be easier, though I believe the region limitations are still enforced in the PC world as well. (If I recall correctly one can change the region coding for their PC-based DVD drive 3-4 times before it becomes permanant...)

            I seem to recall that around Astor Place there are quite a few stores that cater to the Manhattan Japanese community, including a fantastic market whose name I cannot recall. Perhaps you might be able to find something in that neighborhood, but my gut tells me that a quick search on eBay would be far easier...

            1. re: cgfan

              Sunrise Mart on Stuyvesant St. has some videos to rent. Wasn't there also a place in Midtown within a few blocks of the NYPL (not 41st St. and not Kinokuniya)?

            2. Cgfan,

              There's a food related show I used to enjoy, though it was reality-based not a fictional drama. The name in Japanese was "愛の貧乏脱出大作戦" (Ai no Binbou Dashuttsu Daisakusen) which translates something like "The Great Battle to Escape Poverty"...err, something like that. It was kind of a cross between restaurant makeover, Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmare thing on BBC, and of course a little bit of Gachinko.

              Basically they took a poor, debt-ridden small restaurant owner- almost always a man- and profiled how bad his restaurant was. Inevitably, his shop was dirty, old, out of fashion, his technique was poor and his food was bad. His monthly balance sheet was shown and as well as a sad family aspect, usually presented by the wife. After this profile, the studio host presented 3 techniques to improve things and "Save the poor". The main part of the show was that they took the poor guy and sent him to a restaurant in Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka to learn from a master. If the guy ran a ramen shop, they sent him to a top ramen shop, or if the guy ran a Chinese or Youshoku place, they sent him there. He had like four days to get his act together. Meanwhile the program producers renovated his shop.

              As with most Japanese reality television, the show relied heavily on public humiliation - mostly of the poor guy enduring brow-beating, loss of confidence, exposure of his lack of skills, etc. But there was also an interesting educational and technique element to it all as well. Since they only had 4 days, the guy wasn't going to learn a whole menu. So they usually focused on one feature dish. For example, there were a few episodes that focused on "chahan" or fried rice. The guy would struggle for hours learning to properly stir, fry, and flip the rice in a large wok. Or a guy would crimp gyoza dumplings until he got it right. This was interesting as you could learn fascinating tips and secrets behind the dishes that they made.

              The show culminated with him learning lessons and thanking and bowing deeply to the master, then returning to his shop to find the renovation. They filmed his re-opening- almost always a packed house, and then the show finished back in the studio, where the guy presented his feature food for 3 celebrity guest commentators. The show ended with the announcement of the reopening day reciepts, followed by an emotional reading of a letter from the poor participant to his wife- sometimes kids if he was a widower.

              The show was hosted by Mino Monta, a kind of infamous noisy, know-it-all type of unctous guy who usually hosts an afternoon call-in show for mother-in-laws complaining about daughter-in-laws.

              It was on Monday nights. I checked YouTube, but no luck. JAS Mart on St. Marks might have the tapes of this and other programs.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Silverjay

                Wow what a great summary you gave on "Ai no Binbou Dashuttsu Daisakusen". It really does sound like Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares", doesn't it? I haven't seen it myself but I almost feel like I have given your thorough post.

                I especially like the part where you say they focus over the 4 days on just one simple skill or technique. I find that kind of close examination of detail interesting - the dorama "Shota no Sushi" does close to the same in that one skill or technique is focused on for each 1 hour episode.

                I would probably watch some of these as well if they were more readily available for home viewing here. Thanks to your post on "Gachinko Ramen Do" I was able to find the YouTube episodes you mentioned and even tried to organize them into a playlist. But it gets pretty impractical watching them on the computer, especially since each episode gets broken down into 5-6 separate segments on YouTube.

                So for both content and ease of viewing the doramas being sold on eBay have worked out pretty well for me so far, and I'm sure there's many more out there that I have yet to see in the "gurume" category...

                1. re: Silverjay

                  Extreme Makeover: Restaurant Edition. ABC - are you listening?

                  Anybody also into manga (comic books)? There was a mention in the latest Savuer of one of my all time favorites, Yakitate!! Japan, whose young protagonist is a "natural", born with warmer than normal "hands of the sun", and who makes ja-pan. A great read - vol II has recently been translated and is now available in the US.

                  1. re: applehome

                    I love Yakitate!Japan (I watch the anime and nowhere near finished)... also some older ones like Born to Cook (though I hardly remember this one) and Master Cooking Boy (Chinese food).

                    1. re: apostrophecatastrophe

                      I have all episodes of "Master Cooking Boy" as an anime, and what little I've viewed so far is very good. Is "Born to Cook" also available as an anime, or is it manga only?

                      Will have to look out for "Yakitate! Japan" too.

                      applehome: Which issue of Savuer would I find the article? I subscribe to it but have yet to come across it in the latest issue, the one whose cover story is about, if I can recall the details correctly, the first Mexican immigrant family to own a vineyard in the Napa Valley region.

                    2. re: applehome

                      My wife is fairly convinced that she can gain a thorough understanding of the French Revolution from her "history" manga. I'm skeptical though. Most of my esposure has been snagging what's been left on the train. But since there are a few manga otaku hanging about here, maybe you can help me out...I have a friend who's college-aged son is interested in Japan and Japanese language. I'm headed to Japan next month and was thinking of picking him up a manga magazine or two. Any recommendations of something current that I can pick up- chow related or otherwise? Should be basic level with the kana next to the kanji.

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        I wish that Mangajin was still around - you can still find their two-volume set Basic Japanese in book stores, and maybe get some back issues. I would highly recommend anything with Mangajin on it. I can't believe that I threw away all those copies I had years ago. I'll ask my son (serious otaku) what he recommends in terms of current manga with furigana - but from what I've seen, there's not a lot of Kanji in manga anyways - and of course, furigana assumes that the reader knows the kana gojuon pretty well. (Thank god for my tea cup...)

                        There are some terrific historical novels in manga - not that I'd want to say that I'm learning history from them - but really, no different from written historical fiction. I'm a big fan of the grand master himself, Osamu Tezuka. I have his 8-volume set, Buddha, and his 5-volume set called Adolf, which is about two boys named Adolf in wwII era Japan. Adolf actually gave me some insite into what my grand-uncle must have gone through as a chef in the German Club at that time (there... a chowy comment).

                        I just googled mangajin and it turns out they're on line. Here's an example of a manga they analyze. This being about Kappumen (Cup of Noodles), now this post certainly qualifies as food related!


                        1. re: applehome

                          Thanks. I'm not familiar with any of this stuff. I learned my Japanese from television and food menus. Cheers...

                  2. is the gastrologica article on the web by chance - cgfan?

                    anyone read addicted to curry?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      I looked for it already with no luck. You can order back issues here:

                      1. re: kare_raisu

                        I have a copy of it in my collection of back issues of Gastronomica, but in regards to it's availability on the web, just this short brief is available on their site:


                        And here's the bibliographic information on the article:
                        Brau, Lorie“Oishinbo’s Adeventures in Eating: Food, Communication, and Culture in JapaneseComics,” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 34-45. (Fall2004).

                        As you can see at 12 pages this is an extensive article, as most articles are in Gastronomica.