This was a difficult set to write because it was difficult to whittle down the list to seven. This week/month, I’ve been reading various food manga and here are the seven titles that I enjoyed… right now. I have a feeling that if I read the other stories, I’d probably go to my wits and them here. But right now, these are the titles that we’ll all probably enjoy, regardless if we love manga or food a little more than the other.
1. Shinya Shokudo (Midnight Diner)
Open from 12:00 AM to 7:AM, this late night diner is a safe haven for late night stragglers who want a good meal after a tiring day. This is one of my favorite food comics as it draws on people’s memories and its relationship with food. The food served in this series is simple and heartwarming, with little fuss over ingredients and more into the care in making the dishes. I love how this diner invites the oddest of people who all find solace in this place. It’s still running but it’s a relatively short series that is feasible as a license abroad. As said in our podcast, Ed Chavez even suggested that if Drawn and Quarterly wanted a food manga, this would be the perfect food title for them. And I couldn’t agree more. It’s quite popular in China because of the drama and the comic. The featured image on top is from the Chinese edition of the comic.
2. Addicted to Curry
After travelling all over the world, searching for the diverse flavor of curry, Makito Koenji returns to give respects to his curry master. Disappointed that his master’s restaurant was going down, Makito helps the daughter to resuscitate this curry joint. This series is an epic shounen title that involves a lot of curry battles. What I particularly enjoy about this title is its dedication in showing tons of awesome curry dishes. And I’m talking about a mix of authentic curry dishes from India and Southeast Asia, as well as new dishes created for the series. I have nothing but love for this story and while it’s a long title, I’m thinking that we’ll have a chance to appreciate this title and see it running in Jmanga.
3. Cheese no Jikan (Age of Cheese)
Les Fromage is a new cheese restaurant owned by a Japanese girl who couldn’t forget her love for cheese after going to France. This series is enjoyable because of its endless love for cheese. It discusses mostly flavor notes, food and wine matching, some recipes, and history of cheese. It’s a lovely title that I truly adore and definitely a must read for many cheese lovers out there.
4. Kuitan (The Case Files of the Gourmand Detective)
This is an old series but I still have nothing but love and devotion for this title! When the police district gets in a pinch, sometimes they call on Seiya Takano as their consultant. A private detective by trade, this guy solves a mystery by discovering how men lose their crumble. He investigates what the person last ate, the food he has been eating, and other circumstantial evidences that are related to food. While you might think that this might just revolve around poisoned folks and their meals, this fun title also explores the history and meaning of food to various people and cultures. A fantastic title that would be worth reading for mystery and food nuts like me.
5. Shitsuren Chocolatier (The Lovelorn Chocolatier)
A nominee for the 2011 Manga Taisho award, this heartbreaking tale of a man’s broken affections from the love of his life is must read for all chocolate lovers. His chocolate captures the tumultuous emotions that he encounters from chapter to chapter and while the art might be questionable to many, if the Manga Taisho nomination doesn’t convince you, then perhaps your love for bittersweet chocolates can convince you how this story is just as bitter sweet. This title frustrates me and makes me happy in a way that any good josei should do. I hear this series is quite popular in France as well.
6. Cooking Papa
This is probably too long for licensing, but there is a Cooking Papa Selection that contains quite a great number of stories from the series. Cooking Papa is as much an institution in food manga as Oishinbo is. However, unlike Oishinbo, Cooking Papa is a more episodic, slice of life tale that focuses more on domestic cooking rather than high-class food fare. And this makes it a better casual read than Oishinbo. The manga in itself is a slice of life tale where the father takes charge of the kitchen rather than the mother (more to help the family and not because the wife can’t cook!) While it’s fun to see his family grow, it’s a lot lovelier seeing the awesome food they manage to cook and eat. The dishes are also very easy to cook, but some of them can be quite ambitious, like that dorayaki wedding cake. OTL.
7. Kinou Nani Tabeta (What Did You Eat Yesterday)
I think I’m not alone in featuring this comic, and while there are still some mixed emotions on getting this title on board, to this day, this is one of my favorite titles which religiously follow. Forget the whole idea of the homosexual couples or the gender issues in this tale. What I appreciate about this is how the act of sharing food builds relationships between people. I’d love to see this title in English someday so that more people will see Yoshinaga Fumi at her best.
In writing this feature, other titles pop in my head to the point that I have to hold myself and remind myself that someday, I might just be able to write them. For now, these are my favorites which I continue to look at when I feel hungry. Hopefully, these titles get licensed and will become your favorites as well.