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Oishinbo Ala Carte Volume 1: Japanese Cuisine

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Oishinbo Ala Carte Volume 1 by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki, published by  VIZ Signature Manga

Oishinbo Ala Carte Volume 1

OISHINBO A LA CARTE © Tetsu KARIYA, Akira HANASAKI / Shogakukan Inc.

The Bottom Line

From the land that brought you Iron Chef and $100 melons comes Oishinbo, the ultimate graphic novel for gourmets. What sets Oishinbo apart from other cooking manga is its mix of entertaining stories and appetizing tidbits about Japanese culture and cuisine, with a dollop of slice-of-life humor and drama. Even if you think you know a lot about food, Oishinbo will teach you something new that will change the way you look at cooking and eating.

While it's mostly geared for gourmets, Oishinbo is also fun for Japanophiles and readers seeking new flavors in their manga diet. A delicious addition to America's manga menu!

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  • An entertaining, enlightening and appetizing look at Japanese cooking
  • The intense rivalry between father and son, Kaibara and Yamaoka keep things spicy
  • While not flashy, Hanasaki's artwork portrays Japanese cuisine and culture with humor and clarity
  • Full-color recipe pages give how-to's for some of the featured dishes - a nice touch
  • A satisfying manga meal that will please foodies, Japanophiles and non-manga readers too


  • Ruins readers' tolerance for mediocre Japanese food -- while making them very hungry
  • Americans / foreigners are stereotypically depicted as naive and slightly clueless
  • Sometimes teeters on the line between educational and preachy / nationalistic


  • Original Title: Oishinbo (Japan)
  • Author: Tetsu Kariya
    Artist: Akira Hanasaki
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1421521398
  • Cover Price: $12.99 US / $15.00 CANADA
  • Age Rating: T – Teens Age 13+ for family drama over food
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: January 2009
    Japan Publication Date: 2006
  • Book Description: 272 pages, black and white illustrations, 4 color pages

Guide Review - Oishinbo Ala Carte Volume 1: Japanese Cuisine

Oishinbo has ruined Japanese food for me. Well, not quite. It has made it almost impossible for me to tolerate mediocre Japanese food.

Not long after reading Oishinbo ala Carte, I went to a sushi restaurant. This place never claimed to be a fine dining establishment, but the reviews I read were favorable, so I gave it a shot. As each roll and nigiri came out, I found myself critiquing the meal: The rice was too soggy. The rolls were a sloppy mess. The fish tasted like it had been around too long. I paid my check and vowed never to return. Thanks a lot, Oishinbo.

I'm not as picky as Oishinbo's gourmet hero Shiro Yamaoka, nor am I a snotty gastronome like his father, Yuzan Kaibara. But as read Oishinbo, I found myself equally fascinated by the food facts stirred into each story as I was by the intense rivalry between these dueling diners.

I read excepts of Oishinbo in Mangajin, but this is the first time I was able to see the dynamics between the characters who eat, cook and argue in this long-running seinen manga. Yamaoka is a journalist who has an impeccable palate and an unwavering moral compass for the "true" spirit of Japanese cuisine. Yamaoka is a modern-day stoic samurai who has replaced his katana with a kitchen knife.

In every story, Yamaoka teaches his colleagues about the finer points of Japanese cuisine. Foreigners, managers and friends can only look on in awe because Yamaoka is almost always right. What keeps him from being a know-it-all is his conflicts with his father. Kaibara is an arrogant jerk, but he's also a rich and knowledgeable jerk who occasionally gets one over on his son, and that's what keeps this story so engaging.

Unlike the so-so sushi restaurant I visited, Oishinbo lives up to its rave reviews. It's an appetizing and entertaining read that will tantalize your tastebuds and leave you hungry for more.

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