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12 Cooking Manga Good Enough to Eat

From Oishinbo to Antique Bakery: Gourmet Graphic Novels for Foodies

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From the land of Iron Chef comes cooking manga -- Japanese comics about the thrills and spills (mostly spills) that happens when you turn baking, frying and slicing into a competitive sport, and turn the kitchen into a backdrop for romance, comedy and intrigue. Bite into these tasty tales and if you find yourself with a craving for a cream puff or sushi in the middle of reading these stories, don't say I didn't warn you...

1. Oishinbo ala Carte by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki

Oishinbo Ala Carte Volume 1 by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki, published by  VIZ Signature Manga
© Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki/Shogakukan Inc.

Journalist Shiro Yamaoka is more than just a reporter: he's a trained gourmet chef who has the tenacity, skills and the tastebuds to find the very best cuisine that Japan has to offer. With his co-worker Yuko Kurita, Yamaoka is out to find the ultimate flavors and dishes at restaurants grand and humble alike. But it's not all fun and food for Shiro, as he must also compete with rich and arrogant father, Yuzan Kaibara. Kaibara is a demanding gourmet who terrorizes cooks all over Japan with his demands for only the best food and finest preparations. As Shiro takes on his gastronomical quest, readers are treated to a master class in the finer points of cooking and eating.

Oishinbo is available in 7 print volumes, and in digital format via VIZManga.com.

2. The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto

The Drops of God Volume 1
© Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto / KODANSHA

Named by Decanter Magazine as one of the most influential wine publications in the world, The Drops of God has been a driving force behind the increased interest in wine in Asia. Why? Mostly because The Drops of God features real wines that readers can find, buy, and taste, and introduces the finer points of wine appreciation in a way that's both accessible and entertaining.

Shizuku is the son of a famous wine critic who has turned his back on his father's world. But when his father dies and leaves a will that stipulates that his son must compete with an arrogant young wine critic to inherit a multi-million dollar wine collection, Shizuku takes up the challenge and embarks on a journey of exciting tastes, places, and experiences.

3. Not Love But Delicious Food (Make Me So Happy) by Fumi Yoshinaga

Not Love But Delicious Foods
© Fumi Yoshinaga 2005 / Ohta Publishing Co.

Manga artist Fumi Yoshinaga (Ooku, Antique Bakery) has made no secret about her love of cooking and good food. In Not Love But Delicious Foods, she reveals some of her favorite places to eat in Tokyo, and tells some hilarious stories about her real-life friends, colleagues and would-be dates who share her adventures in fine dining.

With loads of self-deprecating wit and a lots of mouth-watering details, Yoshinaga gives readers a glimpse into her life as a manga creator and a taste of some of favorite dishes. A fun comic fit for foodies that will leave you hungry for more.

4. Yakitate!! Japan by Takashi Hashiguchi

Yakitate!! Japan Volume 1 by Takashi Hashiguchi, published by VIZ Media / Shogakukan
© 2002 Takashi HASHIGUCHI / Shogakukan Inc.
Young Kazuma is a prodigy with a unique talent. He has the 'hands of the sun' or the innate ability to knead and bake outrageously creative and sublimely delicious bread. Although he can bake baguettes, croissants and danishes with ease, Kazuma dreams of creating the ultimate bread for Japanese tastebuds -- the elusive "Ja-pan" (pan = "bread" in Japanese). Filled with delectably detailed trivia about baking, Yakitate!! Japan is the ultimate comic for carb-lovers.

5. The Antique Bakery by Fumi Yoshinaga

Antique Bakery Volume 1 by Fumi Yoshinaga
© Fumi Yoshinaga

In The Antique Bakery, a scruffy ex-professional, a former boxer and a gay pastry chef with a talent for making sweet treats and for breaking men's hearts whip up a delightful yaoi manga confection of romance, drama and comedy.

Filled with lots of delectable details about the finer points of making French pastries, this is one comic book that will have you craving cream puffs by the time you get to the last page.

6. Kitchen Princess by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi

Kitchen Princess Volume 1 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi from Del Rey Manga
© Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi / KODANSHA LTD. All rights reserved.

Kind-hearted Najika loves to cook for her friends, but now that she's at the exclusive Seika Academy, she finds it'll take more than just a perfect crème brulee to find her place in this elite environment and to find her childhood crush, a mysterious prince who's now a student at Seika.

Kitchen Princess is a sweet (in more ways than one) shojo manga story filled with fantasy, romance and more than a few tasty recipes that even beginners can try to create culinary magic in their kitchen.

7. Toriko by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro

Toriko Volume 1 by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro, from Shonen Jump Manga / VIZ Media
© 2008 Mitsukoshi Shimabukuro / SHUEISHA Inc.

It's the golden age of gastronomy in a world where the most delicious and rare delicacies are there for the eating. But many of the tastiest treats are also extremely dangerous to capture and bring to the dinner table. When the stakes are high and the monster steaks are rare, there's only one man with the appetite for danger: Toriko, the gourmet hunter.

8. Ekiben Hitoritabi by Jun Hayase and Kan Sakurai

Ekiben Hitoritabi Volume 1
© Jun Hayase, Kan Sakurai / FUTABASHA PUBLISHING

One good thing about JManga.com is that it offers Japanese publishers the opportunity to bring niche titles out in English that might not normally be published in North America. One such example is Ekiben Hitoritabi, a mouth-watering mix of travelogue and foodie manga.

Daisuke Nakahara is a thirty-something man who loves two things: trains and good food. Fortunately, he lives in Japan, where his two passions come together in ekiben, (eki = train, bento = box lunches, so ekiben = regional box lunches you can buy on a train or at train stations). Each town's ekiben spotlight seasonal delicacies, and each tasty tidbit tells a story about the region's food and its history.

9. Gokudou Meshi by Shigeru Tsuchiyama

Gokudou Meshi Volume 1
© Shigeru Tsuchiyama / FUTABASHA

Gokudou Meshi can be roughly translated as "Gangsters' Banquet." The fascinating thing about this unusual foodie manga is that it's not about cooking but it's about the sheer act of enjoying food that's so good, you can't stop thinking about it (even when you're the farthest place from a 5-star restaurant: in prison). Gokudou Meshi was also made into a live-action movie that was released in North America with the somewhat inaccurate title of Sukiyaki. It's currently available in English only in digital format from JManga.com.

For criminals incarcerated in a Japanese jail, a high point of their year is the lavish meal they receive on New Year's Day. But a group of prisoners up the ante by challenging each other to share a story about the best, the most memorable, the most delicious meal they've ever eaten. The stakes? The winner who tells the most mouth-watering tale gets an extra serving of their New Year's meal.

10. Mixed Vegetables by Ayumi Komura

Mixed Vegetables Volume 1 by Ayumi Komura, published by  Shojo Beat Manga / VIZ Media
© 2005 by Ayumi Komura All rights reserved.
Hanayu's parents own a pastry shop, but her dream is to become a sushi chef. Meanwhile, her classmate Hayato's family runs a sushi restaurant, but he loves baking sweets. You'd think that all the ingredients for romance are there for these two high school culinary students, but love sometimes requires a slow simmer before it's ready to serve.

11. Project X Challengers: Cup Noodle by Tadashi Katoh

Project X Challengers: Cup Noodle by Tadashi Katoh, published by Digital Manga Publishing (DMP)
© NHK / Akira Imai / Tadashi Katoh

Although it's not technically a cooking manga, Project X Challengers: Cup Noodle provides enough detailed information about the ingredients and the preparation required to turn this 3-minute meal from idea to worldwide reality. If you've ever poured hot water on a cup of freeze-dried noodles, you'll be fascinated by the struggles that the Nissin team went through to get everything just right. After you discover how difficult it was to get just the right type of shrimp and the best noodles, you'll have a new appreciation for this instant meal that took years to make.

12. Iron Wok Jan by Shinji Saijyo

Iron Wok Jan Volume 1 by Shinji Saijyo, published by Dr Master Publications
© Shinji Saijyo

Take a cup of Iron Chef, add a heaping half-cup of Hong Kong kung fu and a can of Red Bull and you have the hyper-active cooking manga Iron Wok Jan.

Jan Akiyama is a talented, albeit arrogant chef who's mastered the art of Chinese cuisine. When he arrives at Gobancho, the finest Chinese restaurant in Tokyo, he's burning with the desire to show everyone that he's got the right stuff to 'wok' the culinary world. Along the way, readers are taught some astounding (and sometimes useful) tips, tricks and trivia about food and cooking. Sheep brain soup anyone?

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