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Iron Wok Jan Volume 1

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

Iron Wok Jan Volume 1

© Shinji Saijyo

The Bottom Line

Much like a Hong Kong kung fu flick chased with a case of Red Bull, Iron Wok Jan is a hyperactive cooking manga that turns cooking Chinese cuisine into a ruthless, no-holds-barred martial arts competition.

While it serves up a steaming plateful of cooking trivia worthy of the Iron Chef TV show, Iron Wok Jan also has so much frantic storytelling and busy artwork crammed into it that it's an exhausting read. Add in the unpleasant, unlikeable characters, and it's a dish that doesn't tempt me to go back for seconds.

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  • Gives the cooking manga genre a hyper-competitive martial arts spin
  • Lots of unusual and mouth-watering details about Chinese cuisine


  • Busy, frantic and over-drawn art
  • A constantly amped-up story that borders on the ridiculous
  • Ugly, unappealing characters with unpleasant personalities


Guide Review - Iron Wok Jan Volume 1

Jan Akiyama is a young man aiming to be the greatest Chinese chef in the world. With his intense gaze and jaw-dropping culinary skills, Jan arrives at Gobancho, the finest Chinese restaurant in Tokyo with a burning desire to show the world that he's the king of the kitchen.

Like an over-the-top kung fu flick, Iron Wok Jan Volume 1 turns Chinese cooking into an ultra-competitive martial arts competition. Vegetables aren't just chopped, they are sliced and diced into submission with lightning-fast knife work. Fried rice becomes the ultimate test of wok mastery. Our hero's enemies aren't monsters, but snobby restaurant critics. In the world of Iron Wok Jan, cooking great food is the only thing that matters, and serving a bad meal isn't just embarrassing, it's reason enough to commit suicide.

In the midst of all this hyperactive drama, Iron Wok Jan is full of tasty tidbits about food and the finer points of cooking. Whether you're a Food Network fan or can barely boil water, Jan and his fellow chefs will teach you something new and interesting.

However, like natto (fermented beans) or unagi (eel) Iron Wok Jan is an acquired taste. It's a title that some people really like, while it leaves other readers repulsed. With 27 volumes in the series, Iron Wok Jan is a long-running series that has its share of fans. Unfortunately, based on the taste I got from Volume 1, I'm not one of them.

The art is frantic and constantly amped-up. As the hero, Jan is arrogant and unpleasant. And I could barely stomach the scenes of corporal punishment as Jan's grandfather burns and hits young Jan as he teaches him the way of the wok. I might be missing out on what made this series such a long-running hit, but after one taste of Iron Wok Jan, I'm not tempted to go back for seconds.

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