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

  • cgfan Oct 25, 2006 01:57 AM
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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.

    http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Lunch_no_Joou

    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

              lol.my 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:

          Shota-no-sushi
          Nigiri-zushi San-okunen
          Edo Sushi-ou
          Tekka-no Makihei
          Oishinbo
          Inase-zushi
          Sushiya-no Kotaro
          Kogyaru-zushi
          Kirara-no-shigoto
          Kuro-zushi
          Otoyan
          Aji-na Ofutari
          Anpan-man

          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?
          thanks

          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)?

              1. re: BuildingMyBento

                You may be thinking of Midnight Video...

                http://midnightusa.com

            2. re: SwampYankee

              Many can be found online, for free, via http://www.d-addicts.com

            3. 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!

                        http://www.mangajin.com/mangajin/samp...

                        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: http://www.gastronomica.org/

                      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:

                        http://www.gastronomica.org/issues040...

                        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.

                      2. While trawling on eBay I found a few more Japanese DVD titles with English subs:
                        * Delicious Proposal (2006) - romance in an Italian restaurant
                        * Food Detective (2006) - a private eye with a penchant for gourmet food
                        * Teppan Girl Akane (2006) - family-run teppanyaki joint
                        * Nebaru (2004) - a family business making natto (fermented soybeans)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: gauntlet

                          gauntlet: Wow, great job! I haven't seen any of these, and only the 1st one sounds familiar... I particularly need to see Nebaru, the natto-junkie that I am!

                          What gurume dramas have you seen and like the most? For me I think that title would go to "Shota no Sushi"; very campy, but I learned a lot from it too!

                          1. re: cgfan

                            Thanks cgfan. Yeah, I saw Shota-no Sushi back on Singapore TV in 1998 or so. I didn't think it was that long ago until I saw the year that it was released! Time sure flies! It had me glued to the TV set and my fav episode was one where the chef demonstrated dipping his hands in ice water to avoid "contaminating" the delicate raw fish slices.

                            I have yet to watch the new serials. I recently just got back "into" J-dramas only because I enjoy cooking Japanese food. I am now looking to buy some original English subbed DVDs. Can you recommend any eBay or online stores?

                            P.S. I'm asking for recommendations only because some eBay offerings look dubious and I don't want my DVDs confiscated just because they turned out to be duplicates.

                        2. Not a drama, but thanks to a friend of mine, I recently discovered an anime series called Chuka Ichiban/Cooking Master Boy. It's about a teenager in China who sets out to become the best chef in the country through a combination of natural ingenuity and by drawing inspiration from his late mother's recipes.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: okayu

                            okayu: Re. Chuka Ichiban/Cooking Master Boy, that's a very good one. If I recall correctly, judging by the number of episodes, it was a very long running series. Though how they showed the kitchen skills were very exagerated (picture almost Star Trek-like warp-speed effects as the knives starts to fly and do amazing things to the ingredients...) due to its anime context, it still was surprising how deep they got into various subtleties.

                            Thanks to aesis for the tip on "Lunch Queen" (Lunch no Joou)! I just started watching the torrented files from d-addicts, and like any good dorama it looks promising from the very start.

                          2. In the "what others are out there" category -
                            Check out Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace). It's a Korean drama based on the true story of a Korean girl who overcame societal restrictions and palace intrigue to become the first woman to earn a position as the Royal Physician. It's a great story that shows a lot about the development and preparation of Korean Royal Cuisine.
                            Here's the d-wiki link:
                            http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Dae_Jang_Geum

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hannaone

                              or my lovely samsoon - korean drama with french pastry

                              1. re: bitsubeats

                                Hilarious show. Totally loved it.

                            2. I was going to post to another thread about Japanese dramas, but I thought it more worthwhile here. Here's an update for some more recent "gurume doramas".

                              Haikei Chichiue-sama (Dear Father) (2007) Very good drama. This drama is set in one of the surviving Meiji era ryoteis (old-style washoku restaurant) in the Kagurazaka neighborhood of central Tokyo. The central character is a young cook climbing the ranks (played by Ninomiya Kuzunari who was the central character in Letters from Iwo Jima). What I found fascinating about this drama is the context of the cultural clashes between tradition and modernism and how this restaurant, the neighborhood, and its people are affected by all the recent trends in Japan. There are some good scenes of the morning shopping at Tsukiji market, and some kitchen scenes, but those are far too minimal, and leaves you wanting more. But the writing and acting are so good in this drama that it's forgivable. Maybe I'm missing some crucial inside reference, but this drama seems to be parodying a French drama with the music and feel, like it's set in Montmartre in Paris.

                              Bambino (2007). Not bad. The writer of this drama knows the intricacies of restaurant life. The restaurant, it turns out, is the main character of the drama. If you look at it that way, instead of seeing the Bambino character as the main character, then it's more interesting. The drama aspect is pretty lame, but it's well worth watching for the portrayal of the culture of the restaurant world. It's especially interesting how the apprenticeship system that's so well documented with sushi restaurants is applied to the high-end Italian restaurant. It's the Shota no Sushi of the Italian restaurant world.

                              Kuitan 2 (2007). Don't bother for anything other than food. It seems that they ran out of material midway through the season and had to come up with some ridiculous plot shift to make up for it. Choo tsumannai.

                              Oishii Proposal (2006). Eh. This drama is driven by the sexual tension between people who aren't suppose to like each other. But the two main actors struggle to build chemistry and the drama hinges on their ability to make it work. There aren't enough restaurant scenes to make up for the imbalance of the drama.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: E Eto

                                how about osen? I just started watching this last week and I love it. Very old school japanese

                                1. re: bitsubeats

                                  I saw the first episode of Osen a week or so after it aired in Japan, and wasn't really drawn to it much at all. The writing seems formulaic, and the viewer isn't really drawn into the Osen character, although I do like Aoi Yu as an actress (see the move Hula Girls if you haven't). It seems that it hasn't caught on with the Japanese public as well, since the ratings seem pretty low, and the viewership seems to be diminishing by the week. I don't think the network will do something similar with Teppan Shojo Akane and stop it short because of poor ratings.

                                2. re: E Eto

                                  Other doramas or movies that I can now add to this thread are "Food Fight", "Udon", and "Oishimbo".

                                  "Food Fight" is a drama focused on the life of a competitive eater, (as in Kobayashi of Nathan's hot dog fame...), though in this case, like many dramas, can never be confused for a real person due to a story line that is constantly being stretched to its limits. And though this drama features plenty of food, it never seems to focus on any interesting anecdotes about a dish's history or secrets of its creation, just plain gluttony. Even a discussion of techniques practiced by the competitive eater might have provided a modicum of interest. Somehow I did end up watching the entire series, almost as fast as the main protagonist finished his towering plates of food...

                                  As far as interesting food anecdotes goes, Kuitan is a much more interesting drama than Food Fight. And the tongue in cheek manner in which the single-mindedness of the lead character is delivered, (his mind thinks of nothing but food), makes the ridiculousness of the plots actually charming, provided the viewer can successfully turn off any sarcastic "inner voice"...

                                  Much more interesting was the movie "Udon", which was part of a larger foodie craze in Japan for hand made (te-uchi) udon and udon tourism. This movie followed a team of writers who, looking for a new book idea, came upon the concept of producing an udon guide, used much like a tour book but featuring all things udon. One follows their travels through Sanuki, as they seek out mom & pop udon shops scattered throughout the region.

                                  In the course of their "research", one gets a feel for the very basic nature of these establishments, where the customer is not fawned upon and in some cases must bring their own soup bowls!

                                  There was a pilot done for a proposed drama based upon the very successful and long-running manga series "Oishimbo". This had a lot of potential, but unfortunately was fatally flawed by tis in-your-face over-acting and script that would mercilessly hit the viewer figuratively on his head at each and every joke.

                                  1. re: cgfan

                                    I enjoyed "Udon" (despite some slow parts and somewhat predictable areas) because it focused on how food can help connect people, whether you're preparing it, eating it, or talking about it. There are few optional things in the world that are common to everyone, but eating something that tastes good has to be at or near the top. I thought the whole prodigal son angle was a bit too easy to spot, but was really rooting for him throughout the movie.

                                    All that said, I only managed to see it on a 4 inch screen on the back of a JAL airline seat. I don't think I could recognize any of the actors.

                                    1. re: cgfan

                                      Yeah, Oishimbo (actually called Shin-Oishimbo) had promise, but kind of fell flat with the writing, acting, and manga graphics, although I did learn a few food facts. I did all I could to sit through 2 episodes, with lots of fast-forwarding to the food scenes. I usually like Masahiro Matsuoka when he does more comic acting (I really liked him in Manhattan Love Story, as the quirky kissaten owner), but his role as the lead in Oishimbo was a letdown.

                                      I agree that Udon was a nice little movie. It did a great job uncovering a deeply ingrained regional food and the culture surrounding it. There's also a movie called Yakiniku about, guess what... yakiniku, where two boys from Korea are separated after their mother dies, and they later find themselves in Japan in the yakiniku restaurant world.

                                      Upon further watching, Osen could be worth watching for the food scenes, but the further along it goes, it seems to be copying some plot elements from Haikei-Chichiuesama, so I feel like I'm watching the same drama, or a crappier version of it.

                                    2. re: E Eto

                                      E Eto: Thank you so much for mentioning "Haikei Chichiue-sama". I was intrigued by the name alone, and wondered what warranted such a formal way to address their father, but it all becomes so clear once you get into the narrative. The official translation of the title into simply "Dear Father" certainly feels inadequate.

                                      This has turned into one of my most favorite doramas How it managed to capture both a sense of place and the key characters' attachment to Kagurazaka was masterful.

                                      Yes, Foodie fodder sequences were sparse, but yet I didn't miss it. Thank you for bringing to light a truly wonderful dorama.

                                      1. re: cgfan

                                        Glad you enjoyed the Haikei Chichiue-sama. I think all the credit goes to the screen writer, Kuramoto Sou. His ability to capture a sense of time and place is indeed masterful. I think you will also enjoy his 2005 drama called Yasashii Jikan (Gentle Time? probably not the right translation), set in Furano, Hokkaido, about a son and father who've become estranged after the mother's/wife's death in a car accident.

                                        I've been trying to find sources for Kuramoto's major work that put him on the map, called Kita no Kuni Kara (from the northern country, meaning Hokkaido), which aired from the early 80s with specials as recently as 2003.

                                      2. re: E Eto

                                        love kuitan! I will look up these other ones though; had no idea this genre existed.

                                        1. re: E Eto

                                          Another one to add to the list of "gurume doramas". Ryusei no Kizuna (roughly translated as A Meteor's Bond, aired Fall 2008), which is a story about three siblings whose parents ran a yoshoku restaurant. The three siblings (two brothers and their little sister) were orphaned at a young age when the parents were brutally murdered the night the three stole away in the middle of the night to see a meteor shower. The drama begins as we see the three as adults and their various escapades, until they find a clue to the mystery of their parents' unsolved murder when one of them find a yoshoku shop that is serving hayashi rice that is identical to their father's.

                                          This is another drama that is adapted from a manga, but it clicks on so many levels, from the acting, to the writing/directing. The director is Kudo Kankuro (Kudokan for short) who has made some of the better dramas of the past decade. His style is more fitted for comedy as I find his style to be a cross between Howard Hawkes and Robert Rodriguez, with maybe a little Spike Lee thrown in there, and I believe he does write most of his own material, but this was a departure from his usual techniques.

                                          While the "gurume" parts are limited, the idea of taste memory is central to the plot and resolution, and there are some things to learn about hayashi rice. For those who are interested in Japanese dramas, this does rank as one of the better ones.

                                          1. re: E Eto

                                            Thanks Eric - found all 10 episodes on D-Addicts.

                                        2. I just tripped over this site and I'm in love! Many hours are going to be lost . . .

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: alwayscooking

                                            I haven't gotten past the 1st episode of this, but you might add the 2008 Korean drama to the list:

                                            Title: 식객 / Shikgaek
                                            Also known as: Gourmet / Trencherman / Best Chef
                                            Chinese title : 食客

                                            There was a movie of the same plot prior to this that I enjoyed. I imagine with the TV series there will be much more details about food in each episode.

                                            Anyone have seen online or in stores the Japanese one about sake?

                                            1. re: HLing

                                              After searching around for a Torrent for this drama (Shikgaek), I finally succumbed to watching it on MySoju.com. Wow, what a great series! Although it's a bit of a hassle to have to click through to every successive 20 minute segment, it's gotten me hooked and I'm well over half way through.

                                              It reminds me a lot of the excellent Japanese drama "Haikei, Chichiuesama", as it covers the familiar debate between old and new traditions.

                                              Any other Korean gourmet dramas out there that I should look out for? I think I've just about exhausted all the Japanese ones out there, though I'm still looking for "Nebaru", a drama centered around a Natto maker. (Would appreciate any leads on that one...)

                                              1. re: cgfan

                                                cgfan, I watched Shikgaek here ( http://korean-drama.natsu.tv/w/_gourm...
                                                )and had to wait for them to upload episode 15 and on. Now they have it up to episode 21, but I THINK there are a total of 24.. So, I'm taking my time now. It's always good to be reminded how one can relate to food on a basic level. It also makes me crave home made Korean food.

                                                I thought I saw some DVD for "Nebaru Onna" for sale online, but have not seen any streaming video of it. Then there's the one about the tea master, "Rikyu" that seemed interesting. Still looking for "Natsuko no Sake", too.

                                                Notorious P.I.G., thanks for the Ando Natsu! I'm hoping that this series will give a clue as to how to make Monaka shells from scratch.

                                          2. Not a dorama, but since someone posted "Udon," how about its ramen counterpart: Tampopo (1985)?

                                            1. A good one I've been watching as of late is called Ando Natsu.

                                              It revolves around the character Ando Natsu a young woman whose work at a pastry shop has abruptly come to an end after her mentor and owner of the business passes away. She goes to Tokyo in search of a job and eventually winds up working at a prestigious Wagashi Ya called Mangetsudo. The stories center around the more profound aspects of Wagashi and how it relates to the community in Asakusa as well as Ando Natsu's own evolution as an apprentice.

                                              Interesting series with lots of information on Wagashi and Wagashi techniques. My favorite thing to do is grab some Manju and watch an episode.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                Thanks for reminding me of Ando Natsu. I've Torrented all episodes a long time ago, but somehow never got to finishing the series.

                                                Hmmmm... If only there was a good wagashi-ya in San Diego...

                                                1. re: cgfan

                                                  I would travel far and wide to San Diego if one opened up!

                                                  Ando Natsu is really funny because it has that weird Japanese sense of humour where they're always doing these little plays on words like when they make fun of her name as "An Donuts"

                                                  It's something a lot of older family members of mine in Japan possess. She seems to have the same reaction as I do when their humour kicks in.

                                              2. It's not a drama but an anime, but I REALLY liked it. It INSPIRED me to bake my own bread. Yakitate Japan! It's about a boy who aspire to make a bread for the Japanese people, cause most nations have their own bread but Japan doesn't. And his hands are at a higher temperature (called "solar hands") which is good for kneading or something. It's pretty informative actually and the breads sounds amazing and everyone makes such a big deal about bread I love it.

                                                This isn't Japanese but there is this Cantonese show called Gateaux Affairs which is about cakes!

                                                And a pretty old Cantonese show called A Recipe From the Heart, it's really funny. And people make a big deal over the food I love it.

                                                Those three jump out at me at the moment. I like that the plot actual is about food, not like a lot of shows where food is just a cameo. Like, they just happens to be in a cafe, but the plot is written so they might as well be doctors and nothing will change. Not the ones I mentioned though.

                                                1. There hasn't been a whole lot on the gurume dorama radar for a while, until I caught a new drama called Shinya Shokudo (roughly translated as All-Night Diner), about a little "diner" located in a small corner in an entertainment district around Shinjuku in Tokyo. This small restaurant open from midnight to 6AM, serving as a late-night watering hole and place of nourishment for people who serve in the underbelly of Tokyo's nightlife. As the shop owner narrates at the beginning of each episode, "the only thing I have on my menu is tonjiru (pork miso stew), but anything else, I'll make by request if I have the ingredients. You wouldn't think I get too many customers, but actually, I get all sorts..."

                                                  Each half-hour episode are vignettes around a guest or set of guests who wander in the wee-hours to the "late night diner", and more importantly, a specific dish that's central to their story. These dishes are characteristically "comfort food" dishes that most all Japanese are familiar with, and they represent an emotional aspect to the story, filled with your typical gamut of Japanese themes of sorrow, loneliness, to joy and victory, along with ambivalence. What I've enjoyed with Shinya Shokudo is its departure from the typical over-the-top narrative of Japanese dramas, with a more subtle and fairly amoral tone around the cast of characters who might be construed as misfits in the "normal" working world. Further, the timing of this drama seems to be an intentional antidote to the current furor in Japan for the latest trends in cuisine, Michelin stars, and general fussiness over food, as it subtly preaches about the beauty of simplicity and perhaps the importance of community and social bonds. It's the kind of drama that kids would complain as "shibui" (old fashioned, or whatever). Each episode also ends with a little clip by the guest star with a little pointer on the best technique to make the theme dish.

                                                  Apparently, Shinya Shokudo hasn't gotten the ratings I'm sure the networks wanted, but it's a late-night show, airing at 12:30AM (it reminds me of watching the reruns of old Taxi episodes in the middle of the night). But they have a cool website accompanying the show, and are also currently running specials with some combini chains (convenience stores) for some of these theme dishes.

                                                  http://www.meshiya.tv/
                                                  http://www.meshiya.tv/gochisou/

                                                  20 Replies
                                                  1. re: E Eto

                                                    I watched a few episodes this weekend and really enjoyed it. I believe it is deliberately on at 12:30, not necessarily because of ratings. The show takes place in Kabukicho in Shinjuku- specifically, in the little "Golden Gai" or "ゴールデン街" area near the shrine. This provides lots of opportunity for the "mizu shobai", yakuza, and 2-chome crowd to wander in. I think the show does a good job of highlighting the Japanese sense of pathos in eating in general and in certain comfort foods specifically. You would never see this type of program in the U.S., where the story always eminates so much from the individual's experience and the viewer is ultimately asked to empathasize with the character.

                                                    1. re: E Eto

                                                      Thanks for the heads up on this! I'll see if there are subtitled DVDs of the series in Taiwan when I head back in a few days. I'm craving that Nakajima egg sandwich right now :-)

                                                      1. re: E Eto

                                                        Thanks E Eto for yet another heads up. ...and thanks for providing such masterful wording in your description.

                                                        The last series I saw in the Gurume Dorama genre came from a recommendation from HLing above, and I'd highly recommend it to all. It's a long drama, of which I'm probably just nearing the 2/3rd mark. It's a Korean drama called Shikgaek (Gourmet), and is centered around Korean court cuisine and the tensions involved in preserving one of it's most respected institutions.

                                                        In a way it's posesses many similarities to the excelent drama that you pointed me to earlier, "Haikei, Chichiuesama".

                                                        1. re: cgfan

                                                          Just started watching Konkatsu! Hope there's a bit more focus on Tonkatsu than not.

                                                        2. re: E Eto

                                                          Damn I just finished watching episode 8 of Shinya Shokudo (on mysoju.com) and it's very well done. The whole thing flowed like a really good independent film. I was laughing so hard when this couple paid the bill to leave, and this really hot looking woman was dragging her weak male companion who yelled "master! (the chef) please help me! My body is exhausted!", while being dragged out by what appeared to be his nympho date.

                                                          1. re: K K

                                                            Thanks for the tip. Will have to look out for that one.

                                                            I just recently realized that one can search by topic on MySoju. FWIW, here's a MySoju search based upon the tag "food": http://www.mysoju.com/browse/food/

                                                            Nice part is that it searches across all drama categories.

                                                            1. re: cgfan

                                                              Speaking of cooking anime... anyone here ever watch Mister Ajikko? It is from the 80s but it is pretty damn cool. To this day I am still using coffee to season my curry. XD

                                                              1. re: cgfan

                                                                I came across this (Kodoku No gurume) on Youtube:
                                                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLuXnr...
                                                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d3a57...
                                                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pit5b5...
                                                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng2eOR...
                                                                Hmm??

                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                  Just got the complete season. So good. Kind of late catching onto this series but glad I did.

                                                                  1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                    Just found about this series today as my wife is plowing through it. Another series based on a manga. What's cool is the shops the protagonist visits are real shops that are featured at the end of each episode with the original manga author paying an authentic visit, eating some of the dishes, and chatting with the owners about how they make it. It's a cool way to feature neighborhood restaurants....Just watched the 汁なし坦々めん episode in Ikebukuro at the little Chinese place. Looks so tasty.

                                                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                                                      Yeah it's kind of like Fumi Yoshinaga's work of Antique Bakery/Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy or rather hers is like Masayuki and Jiro's.

                                                                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                        Not Love But Delicious Foods is a one shot manga. Was it adapted into a TV series?

                                                                        1. re: pearlyriver

                                                                          It wasn't adapted into a tv series, no. I'm just drawing the parallel between Kodoko No Gurume and Yoshinaga's NLBDFMMSH. They both visit restaurants that actually exist and provide info on them.

                                                                    2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                      This one?
                                                                      http://www.amazon.co.jp/%E5%AD%A4%E7%...

                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                        Uhm, what about it? Looks like a beautiful box set...

                                                                        1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                          Just wondering if this is what you got when you said you "Just got the complete season".

                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                            Oh gotcha! No I got the significantly less hard copy version of Kodoko No Gurume.

                                                                            1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                              :-)

                                                                              For the curious, that link I posted to episode 2 Pt 2 in my Feb 24 post above seems to have been blocked by Tokyo TV. Here's an English-subtitled version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at7P5a... .

                                                                2. re: K K

                                                                  Thanks for the heads up. It doesn't even get more than one review on Jdorama, but the premise seems exactly what I'm looking after.

                                                                  1. re: K K

                                                                    Thanks for the tip. Shinya Shokudo is good beyond my expectation. I see a lot of indie material here. Slice-of-interesting-life films are not often on TV.

                                                                3. Bump. I watched Tampopo a while ago but I still can't get over the decadent food porn. Is there any Gurume on ramen that's of the same league?

                                                                  1. Not a drama, but as for Japanese food TV, the second edition of Iron Chef premiered tonight on FujiTV, I didn't catch who all the Iron Chefs were, but tonight was a battle between new Iron Chef Chinese Wakiya (the guy who opened an upscale Chinese restaurant in NYC, but failed pretty quickly) and former Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenichi's son, Kentaro. Guess I'll set my DVR for Friday evenings now.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: E Eto

                                                                      Eric - just our of curiosity, do the US ICA's play in Japan?

                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                        Never seen ICA in Japan. But I don't have cable in Japan, so maybe it's shown somewhere. On the other hand, I've seen dubbed versions of Top Chef and one of those Gordon Ramsey cooking competition shows.