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Oishinbo a la Carte: Japanese Cuisine by…

Oishinbo a la Carte: Japanese Cuisine (edition 2009)

by Kariya Tetsu, Hanasaki Akira (Illustrator)

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177496,849 (3.94)4
Title:Oishinbo a la Carte: Japanese Cuisine
Authors:Kariya Tetsu
Other authors:Hanasaki Akira (Illustrator)
Info:Viz Media (2009), Paperback, 259 pages
Collections:Your library

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Oishinbo à la Carte: Japanese Cuisine by Tetsu Kariya

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    Not Love But Delicious Foods by Fumi Yoshinaga (questionablepotato)
    questionablepotato: There is a theme of loving devotion to food in both manga.

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Japan has one of the very greatest eating and drinking cultures in the world – deep, rich, complex and delicious. Many Japanese people are passionate about food, and will travel all over the country and the globe in search of interesting regional specialities. For a visitor the choice is bewildering. As with many things there, a person could happily spend an entire lifetime just finding new and awesome Japanese food experiences. Where to begin? Well, what worked best for me is this: Oishinbo, written by Tetsu Kariya with art by Akira Hanasaki, is a manga about Japanese food and drink. And it’s brilliant.
It’s incredibly detailed. This is because the characters talk about food and pretty much nothing else. From preparation, recipes, ingredients and where they come from, discussion often spins out into the wider subject of old versus new – the necessity of preserving precious traditional ways of doing things as set against the exciting possibilities of new developments, new techniques, new influences.
But all this detail also comes wrapped in a surprisingly compulsive /story/. When challenged by the newspaper he works for to create an Ultimate Menu, moody young misfit journalist Yamaoka Shiro and his friends become locked in a titanic ‘battle of the foodies’ with Shiro’s estranged father, Kaibara Yuzan. Between that and the episodes from the lives of Oishinbo‘s cast of supporting characters – each one of whom is impeccably believable and entertaining to hear about – the result is a reading feast as fascinating and moreish as its subject. And then, after putting the book down, I’ve gone out and eaten, drunk and enjoyed things I’d never even heard about before I picked Oishinbo up. Result! :D
The theory that you can tell a lot about a country and its culture from its food is proved again in Oishinbo: it’s a riveting insight into both Japanese food and Japan itself. But I think this manga’s even better than that. If you’re at all interested in good eating you’ll get a kick out of Oishinbo. In fact if you’re interested in living your life with care and passion for anything else either I reckon you’ll get a kick out of it, too. ( )
  othersam | Oct 25, 2012 |

"This volume feels a bit less instructional than others, because they focus more on the culture surrounding food in addition to the food itself. There is still a bit about cutting sashimi that was very informative, and the volume contains two recipes for seabream sashimi, both of which sound delicious and appear relatively easy to prepare. However, this volume’s main instructional purpose is to make the reader aware of their etiquette, both in preparing and serving food as well as eating it. Food is more than taste; it’s an experience." ( )
  lampbane | Jan 20, 2011 |
Oishinbo, A la Carte: Japanese Cuisine, written by Tetsu Kariya and illustrated by Akira Hanasaki, was the first Oishinbo collection to be released by Viz Media's Signature line in 2009. Oishinbo, which began publication in 1983 in Japan, is a long running manga that is currently up to one hundred four volumes and is still going. In 1987, the series won the Shogakukan Manga Award for General Manga and it has remained very popular throughout its publication. The Oishinbo, A la Carte collections are basically thematic "best of" compilations. While Japanese Cuisine was the first volume to be made available in English, technically it is the twentieth volume in the A la Carte series and was originally published in 2006. Between 2009 and 2010, Viz released seven of the A la Carte collections and the series received a nomination for the 2010 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material--Asia. I believe it was this nomination that first brought Oishinbo to my attention and when I learned it was about food there was no way I was going to pass up on the manga.

Japanese Cuisine collects ten stories exploring elements of Japanese food culture as well as brief commentary on the subject from the author Tetsu Kariya. The compilation focuses on elements of Japanese cuisine that make it distinct from others, extending beyond just the food itself to the entire dining experience and skills used in and needed for preparation. Japanese Cuisine features knife techniques, different styles and types of sashimi, rice, and tea, the importance of the food's presentation, proper etiquette, and the use of chopsticks among many other things. This variety makes for a good introduction to Japanese food culture and Oishinbo itself. And while fish is a prominent component in many of the stories--understandable since it is also a fairly prominent component in Japanese cuisine--the collection never really feels repetitive. The Viz edition of the manga also includes recipes and practical applications of the subjects covered.

Because Japanese Cuisine is a thematic compilation with stories taken from throughout the Oishinbo series, it is sometimes difficult to get a good feel for the overarching plot of the story and the book can feel a bit disjointed at times. However, each chapter or "course" selected fairs pretty well as short, mostly self-contained vignette. The editor's notes are also very useful in helping to keep the reader oriented and provide further enlightenment on the subjects addressed. In fact, the manga as a whole is both very informative and engaging. The creators' enthusiasm for food is obvious through the characters' own passion and the attention and care given to the portrayal of the various dishes. The amount of detail included in the food's illustration is one of the highlights of Akira Hanasaki's artwork. While I frequently find the character designs appealing, it's really the food that stands out--appropriate and certainly important for a manga about cuisine.

I'm not sure that Oishinbo would initially appeal to readers who aren't already interested in food or Japanese culture but it does make the subjects very approachable and for a foodie like me it's simply fantastic. In addition to all of the food talk there's plenty of drama (oh, the drama!) and it is amusing and thrilling to see people get so worked up and emotional about the things they are passionate. Granted, Shirō (the main protagonist) does come across as a bit of an ass much of the time, but he's nothing compared to his father who may be brilliant but who is a complete bastard. While Oishinbo is primarily a food manga, it is also about the intense relationships that the characters have with food and with each other. I really enjoyed Japanese Cuisine and learned quite a bit reading it in addition to being entertained by the story. I look forward to picking up the next volume, Sake, very much.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Dec 31, 2010 |
A collection of stories from the long-running manga Oishinbo. The story centers around the food journalist Yamaoka Shirō, who is working on the Ultimate Menu project, an attempt to devise a meal representing the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine, for the Tōzai News’ centennial. This regularly brings him into conflict with his father, Kaibara Yūzan, who is a gourmet with fanatically high standards; even when his father isn’t involved in the story, there is plenty of conflict moving the story along.

The Japanese series has been running for over 25 years and 102 volumes of tankōban; the American translation just contains the highlights (with occasional details in the footnotes in back letting you know that characters from a previous story have gotten married, etc.). This is not something to read for long-term plot arcs and character development, but it’s an engaging way to learn about Japanese cuisine. ( )
  slothman | Jun 28, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
Lacking any real ongoing plot, and featuring almost newspaper-strip-quality “salaryman” art, Oishinbo still appeals with its old-school father vs. son character dynamic, its rock-solid writing and the Food Network fascination of learning new things about fish broth and chopsticks. Any foody is sure to enjoy it.
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"As part of the celebrations for its 100th anniversary, the publishers of the Tōzai News have commissioned the creation of the 'Ultimate Menu, ' a model meal embodying the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine. This all-important task has been entrusted to journalist Yamaoka Shirō, an inveterate cynic who possesses zero initiative--but also an incredibly refined palate and an encyclopedic knowledge of food ..."--Cover flap.… (more)

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