Journalist and cynical foodie Yamaoka ShirA´ is tasked with creating "The Ultimate Menu" for the TA´zai News as part of its 100th anniversary celebration. Yamaoka has amazing culinary skills, but a rival newspaper has in mind a "Supreme Menu" and retains ShirA´'s arrogant gastronome father to design it. This fictional manga has nonfictional intent: to give cooking buffs and armchair culinary anthropologists both enjoyment and insight re: Japanese food. Each episode features a different dish or facet of preparation embedded in the overall story about the two competing teams. Fantastically popular in Japan with over 100 volumes, Oishinbo("the gourmet") is being recompiled for Americans into attractive theme-based collections with recipe samples and copious translator's notes. This volume introduces Japanese kitchen basics: rice, sashimi, green tea, and dashi(cooking stock). The otherwise merely serviceable art renders the food exceedingly well, and additional translated volumes are lined up for sake, ramen, raw fish dishes, and vegetables. Entertaining and informative for both public and academic libraries, plus specialty cooking collections. Rated teen and up but probably belongs in adult collections, with topic-specific cataloging.
Gr 10 Up—This is the first title in a manga series that will highlight thematic selections from the more than 100 Oishinbo volumes published since the 1980s in Japan. The premise is that rival newspapers (an almost charmingly outdated notion these days) are competing to create "The Ultimate Menu," a meal that will embody "the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine." Tension sizzles as the volatile and oft-misunderstood Yamaoka is pitted against his famous bulldozer of a father, Kaibara. Each "course" in this menu features an in-depth exploration of an aspect of Japanese culture and cuisine, from the intricacies of chopstick making and use to the importance of holistic cooking to the integrity of a dish. The artwork is static, with simplistic characterization and expression that does little to add depth to the story. Fluidity between panels is slightly lacking, too. Color recipes and detailed notes on the text are included. All said, clearly the author has a passion for Japanese cooking, and his enthusiasm is contagious. A pinch of Rebel Without a Cause served with a generous spoonful of Iron Chef, this book will be snapped up by the ever-growing ranks of Japanophiles, as well as foodies.—Shannon Peterson, Kitsap Regional Library, WA