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Oishinbo: à la Carte, Vol. 6: The Joy of Rice Paperback – November 17, 2009
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About the Author
Manga writer and essayist extraordinaire Tetsu Kariya graduated from prestigious Tokyo University. Kariya was employed with a major advertising agency before making his debut as a manga writer in 1974 when he teamed up with legendary manga artist Ryoichi Ikegami to create Otoko Gumi (Male Gang). The worlds of food and manga were forever changed in 1983 when Kariya, together with artist Akira Hanasaki, created the immensely popular and critically acclaimed Oishinbo.
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Written by Tetsu Kariya and art by Akira Hanasaki, the series has won multiple awards and has had a successful anime TV series run from 1988 through 1992. And now the series is being released in the United States from Viz Media through their Viz Signature. Because there have been so many volumes, Viz has selected chapters from the popular manga and will separate each volume release by cuisine topic.
So, far the following manga been released:
* Oishinbo A la Carte - The making of food, beverages and utensils
* Oishinbo - Sake
* Oishinbo A la Carte - Ramen & Gyoza
* Oishinbo A la Carte - Fish, Sushi and Sashimi
* Oishinbo A la Carte - Vegetables
"Oishinbo" revolves around the employees of the newspaper Tozai News with its employees commissioned to create the "Ultimate Menu", a model meal that embodies the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine. Both Shiro Yamaoka and Yuko Kurita are in charge of the project and throughout each chapter, the series is broken down to several types of dishes or food related items and how each dish is created.
Meanwhile, his father, who Shiro has had an estranged relationship for years after his mother's death, the world renown founder and director of prestigious Gourmet Club and Japanese pottery creator, Kaibara Yuzan heads the "Supreme Menu" for a rival newspaper. So, both Shiro and his father are known to butt heads many times. With Kaibara looking at his son as a person with a lacking knowledge of cuisine but Shiro, never to stand down against his father, proving that he knows more than his father thinks.
For this latest volume of "OISHINBO A la Carte", the stories are broken up in chapters that relate to rice. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each chapter:
1. Recipe: Scallop Rice - Featured in one of the stories of this volume, a recipe featuring photos (in color) of how to prepare scallop rice.
2. FIRST COURSE - A Remarkable Mediocrity - An earlier story featuring Kyogoku Mantaro (The wealthy businessman), as Tozai news tries to get the millionaire to lend his Renoir for the Impressionist Art Exhibition through food but accidentally offending him. Can Yamaoka win him back?
3. SECOND COURSE - Brown Rice vs. White Rice (Part One) - A group of the judo women's team must incorporate brown rice into their diet but they dislike it.
4. SECOND COURSE - Brown Rice vs. White Rice (Part Two) - Yamaoka must show Takeko Miyamoto, supervisor of the Buiku Women's College Judo Team of why their version of brown rice is not good.
5. THIRD COURSE - LIVE RICE - Yamaoka try to help Arakawa-san how to cook rice (using a rice mill) to please her boyfriend's mother.
6. FOURTH COURSE - Companions of Rice - Yamaoka must convince the deputy prime minister why they should not import rice to Japan.
7. FIFTH COURSE - The Matsutake Rice of the Sea - Mantaro has a bet with his friend/rival on who can cook the best Matsutake rice but something bad happens to his friend.
8. Oishinbo Day-by-Day - Tetsuya Kariya talks about the act of eating rice and comparisons of Japan, Chinese and South Korea when it comes to eating certain food with rice.
9. SIXTH COURSE - No Mixing - Tozai News chef and employees want to include mixed rice into the menu but the publisher Oharo Daizo is against it.
10. SEVENTH COURSE - The Season for Oysters - Yamaoka must prove to his boss why oysters are better in the Summer and also learning of scallops with rice.
11. EIGHTH COURSE - Rice Ball Match (Part One) - The Ultimate Menu (Tozai News) challenges the Supreme Menu (Teito Times) in a rice ball competition.
12. EIGHTH COURSE - Rice Ball Match (Part Two) - The Ultimate Menu (Tozai News) showcases their rice ball recipes to the judges.
13. EIGHTH COURSE - Rice Ball Match (Part Three) - The Supreme Menu (Teito Times) showcases their rice ball to the judges.
Also, included at the end of the main chapters is a "Notes on the Text" which explains certain panels and meaning of certain Japanese words.
I absolutely love "OISHINBO A la Carte". Any fans of Japanese cuisine can also read this manga and just be amazed of how enjoyable, how witty, how smart each story is written. Not only are the readers engrossed by the characters, especially the rivalry between Shiro and his father Kaibara Yuzan, you really learn about the Japanese perspective of cuisine and also preparation.
With "OISHINBO A la Carte - The Joy of Rice", this latest volume is quite interesting as in previous volumes, there was more focus on competitions between Tozai News (Ultimate Menu) versus Teito Times (Supreme Menu). But in this volume, with rice being so important in the Japanese diet, there is more focus on the history of rice in Japan and its importance. We get to learn about Yamaoka and Japanese who worry about importation of rice, we learn about the differences between short-grain and long-grain rice and also how the environment is hurting certain ingredients that Japanese loved with rice but is now becoming rare in today's society.
The latest volume of "Oishinbo A la Carte" was once again enjoyable. Just to remind everyone that because the manga series has been around since 1983, there was just no way the complete series could be released in the US. So, Viz Media chose to separate each volume based on a food item/ingredient or beverage. So, you do miss out on the romantic storyline but nevertheless, the focus is on the food and for the most part, each volume is informative, educational and also very enjoyable to read.
Overall, each volume of "OISHINBO A la Carte" has been magnificent and this latest volume is just as enjoyable as the previous releases. Highly recommended!
The Oishinbo Rice volume is the newest of the series and my current favorite. I grew up eating rice regularly, but it never occurred to me how much you can do with rice. Maybe it's because I can't cook, but I was really impressed with all the recipes and all the explanations for the rice dishes created in this volume. This is my favorite volume of the series so far, it left me hungry after every story... but it was worth it.